Sunday, October 26, 2014

Four things I think would make elections less horrible to endure

We've got local elections going on right now, and whenever we watch network television, we're just buried in conflicting messages and meanness, and I'm about done with it. The fact that it'll start up sometime next year, bigger, for the presidentals the year after sort of makes me want to throw my TV out the window (except that I love TV, so I won't).

But I've suffered through piles of these stupid things, and, even if it's naive, even if it wouldn't ever work in the Real World*, I've come up with a few ideas that I think would make the whole thing less horrible.

1. Outlaw spindoctors, personal attacks, and misleading use of stats in ads
Any of the devices people use to make the other person look like a devil and themselves look like a saint, outlaw them. Because if A says B is too extreme while also saying in another ad that B is lax, that makes no sense and doesn't actually say anything. If B then says that what A said is actually nothing compared to what A did, how is anyone supposed to know what's actually going on?

They aren't, and that's the point right  now, and that's also the problem. Neither side wants you knowing what's going on, because they want you to believe whatever they tell you, and that's stupid.

And make a third-party, impartial fact-checker with money equal to the money paid by the parties, that exists to verify the claims in the ads. If any of them bend the truth or slander or otherwise get nasty in their ads, the third-party that has no horse in the race, as it were, puts out an ad of their own publicly shaming the bad guys right in the middle of the target market timeframes, and correcting, in clear, concise, and verifiable language, whatever the lie was.

2. Whoever comes in second is your Vice-whatever
It'll force the parties to not alienate each other, because if they do, they'll be stuck working with each other and they won't get their own stuff done any more than the other guy does. It'll make them elect people who are less polar opposite for the role to begin with, and, I think, it'll make them stop attacking each other to make themselves look good--because that person is going to be your right hand if you win, and you're going to be theirs if you don't.

I heard somewhere that they did this with the first few elections, and whether that's true or not, it's a fantastic idea.

3. Ban extremism
All extremism. Religious extremism is the one you hear about all the time--and the crazy people who are starting to say the Tea Party is too weak and basically implying that women shouldn't even count as people are religious extremists.

But there's also political extremism, and financial extremism, and personal extremism, and social extremism. All those government people who do everything in their power to tax more people so they can have more bonus? Financial and personal extremism, and there's no place for it in a fair government. People who want to tear down everything so they, personally, won't have to think about anyone's wellbeing but their own? Personal extremists.

Anyone who things all of any group not like themselves needs to do anything that hurts those people but helps themselves should have to check their sources and their reasoning, and do some major soulsearching. Outside of politics. Way outside. People who are that black-and-white in their thinking, who are so resolutely us-or-them-or-nothing, have no business ruling anyone. That's not strength, that's blindness.

4. Educate everyone
Put government and economics classes back in schools, but start them earlier so people grow up knowing what it all means and are less liable to be gullible when elections come around. But also educate the people who are out of school, and have been for ages--get shows that explain this stuff up on the TV, paid for my impartial third parties to minimize slant. Get newspapers and magazines that make this stuff accessible out to the people. Make it interesting--hell, find a way to make it a reality show, people love those.

Make sure everyone understands how it works and how it plays out, and can call the idiots out who use their power to block, warp or stall the proceedings. Back when we were a new baby country, everyone knew what it all meant; now, no one does, and it means there's no way for people to know whether politicians are flat out lying or not, and that means really inappropriate people get voted in just because they hit the right buttons, regardless of what they actually do.

I hate politics. It turns rational people into frothing assholes, and I'm done with talking and thinking and hearing about it. So I'm putting this out there, and that's all I'm saying on the matter.

*Not the reality-TV series, because that was even less actually real than campaign promises. Which is to say, not at all. Also, who cares about How We've Always Done It? That's an excuse for BS people to keep their BS.
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