Friday, August 31, 2012

Government Procedural Reforms: Part 5

This is the final installment of challenge no. 4. Part 1 can be found here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here, and Part 4 here

Here they are. My final two procedural reforms that will "help move Congress and the executive office back to being a government of the people and for the people." The next and final step in this challenge is to print and distribute these ten reforms, which I am TOTALLY looking forward to since New Yorkers are always kind and receptive to people handing them things on the street.

Ready? Let's do this.


Advertising is evil, amiright? Ok, so the advertising I do isn't evil (although I do feel slightly guilty for touting Velveeta as food), but political advertising is on another level. I recently read this article, and henceforth everything in italics is a direct lift from it. These ads are supposed to sway public opinion. But these aren’t actually opinions being targeted — they’re emotions. Most Americans have less of an opinion when it comes to politics and more of a visceral reaction to issues. 

But doesn't banning political advertising violate the right of free speech?

First off, television is not an unregulated utopia of free speech. Television, like it or not, doesn’t allow everything to be broadcast. There are standards on television. Our mores may have changed over time, but generally we’re still okay with decency standards for television. Speaking is speech. Broadcast is regulated. We don’t allow tobacco companies, for example, to advertise on television. Why? Because their products are poisonous and harmful to our citizenry.

It would be one thing if these political ads were 100% fact-checked and transparent. But they're not. And it’s worth noting that 99% of Americans have televisions in their homes. It’s still the broadest, most viewed medium we have. Which is why candidates and advocates for candidates invest billions into blanketing it. Yes, BILLIONS. Around $10 billion to be exact. I can think of a billion better uses for that money.

And there’s no better example of where to start hysteria than in 30-second fear and loathing campaign spots. Does this elevate political discourse? Civic engagement? Sound policy? Hardly. These ads are doing what tobacco does: producing a carcinogenic cloud.


The majority of our representatives (you know, those who are supposed to be representing the American people) are lawyers and businessmen. What they actually "represent" is a very small percentage of our population, in terms of their day-to-day life experience and salary bucket. They've become insulated and out of touch with the American people. Some argue that the current era of political careerism and unlimited congressional incumbency are largely to blame for government ineffectiveness and people's dissatisfaction with Washington.

I think that if our representatives are to more accurately represent the population, we need to stop electing the same type of person over and over and over. Stop choosing politicians to be our politicians.

This idea is the definition of the phrase "easier said than done," but if we may allow ourselves to think big for a second and imagine a congress filled with teachers, doctors, small business owners, writers, chefs, and scientists. Yeah, it would probably be a shit-show. But a fairer shit-show.

Congratulations! You made it through all ten government procedural reforms.

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