Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Breakdown of Democracy

It is truly scary when a presidential candidate is laughed out of the election because of how he looks or how he talks. Dennis Kucinich represents a significant change in politics. His proposed policies would attempt to create solutions that would be a value to a majority of Americans. He refuses to be beholden to corporate or ideological interests. Kucinich is often called "Dennis the Menace" for his dogged approach and willingness to propose legislation that others are afraid to. This undeserved moniker is an indication of the poor state of democracy that the U.S. currently is subject to. Three major factors show that we have truly lost course: money required to run, confused public perception, and a poor system of elections.

An increasingly ludicrous amount of money is required to run a campaign for election for either the presidency or for seats in Congress. This leads to a system were raising funds becomes the most important aspect of a legislators time. Less time is left to work on issues and actually create quality legislation. This system, which is taken for granted by most Americans, is actually very different than democracy found in other countries. Election cycles in Europe last only a matter of months (though this number is now increasing), candidates spend a fraction of their U.S. counterparts, and the voters are able to be more informed on issues. Because parties are the focus in Europe, as opposed to the individual focus of the U.S. system, it is much easier to identify what policies would be pushed for if one of the parties is elected. The parties hold their members to the party line and because there are multiple parties it is much easier to find one that fits the politics that you would like seeing.

Now I am not saying that we have to go to a proportional representation system that is seen in Europe, we do need to implement significant electoral change. Changes that would make legislators less beholden to special interests, allow them to actually legislate, and allow U.S. voters to understand what the benefits of voting are.

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