Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Thinkday – Why Don’t Representatives Represent Us?

Those of you who know me well know I am a pretty rational guy. Politically I consider myself a moderate, choosing to vote based on individual analysis of people and issues. While it is true I may lean slightly to the left, I would never consider myself a conservative Republican, nor a liberal Democrat.

One thing that has always puzzled me is how often I hear the words “I wish Washington represented the people.” These are supposed to be OUR elected officials who will take our will to the city, state, or federal level to make sure our society functions as WE see fit. But often we end up with representatives who seem to pander to special interest, or lean a bit, to be blunt, on the fanatic and crazy side.

So the question begs to be asked; how do these people who don’t represent America become the leaders of America?

I don’t believe it is mainly due to money in the pocket, friends in high places, or conspiracy at the highest level. Frankly, I think we the people are the root of the problem. We are happy to do our civic duty and head to the ballot come election time, but for the most part we don’t do anything to ensure the candidates on the ballot are those we want.

So some people are probably asking by now; “How do you choose who is on the ballot?” The answer lies in something the far majority of Americans have only heard of in passing: party caucus. You see each political party holds regular caucus meetings at the city, county, state, and national level. These meetings usually begin in party member’s homes, and progress to a larger stage as the circle extends to the national level. At these meetings, and here is the key, like minded individuals of a party meet to discuss party issues including who should run for office. Those names are then presented to the appropriate authorities, and bam, our candidates are selected.

See in the USA we have become oblivious to the caucus process. A large amount of apathy has crept in, and I argue that the majority of Americans, in the consensus sense, have stopped attending. For the most part, those who attend these meetings have individual agendas that often lie in the minority of opinion, and many times lean on the fanatical fringe. Without the majority voice to rein them in, these caucus members propose candidates who are like-minded sharing their ideals.

Once on the ballot the candidates will pander to the majority, but at their core they are still holding the same beliefs as those who got them on the ballot in the first place. Voting day comes along, and the majority of Americans go to the polls, selecting from the ballots, hoping the one they select is “close” to their beliefs and ideals; often choosing a candidate that is the lesser of two evils.

I think a good example lies in the overwhelming victory seen by the Tea Party this last general election. These are people that, judging by news, online polls, articles, and letters, don’t represent America, yet they have real, controlling power over the affairs of our country. Even President Obama, who the majority of voters selected, is often at odds with what the American people say (in surveys) they want him to do. Granted surveys can be extremely subjective, but none-the-less the majority of voters don’t always agree with the President’s actions.

So as I see it the solution to our problems with representation in government, and the lack of synergy with the American majority, lies in early activity in the political system. If you are a party member, attend your caucus and make your voice be heard. That is what I’m thinking about today.

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