This one may appear off-topic for me, but I kind of lost it the other day when I saw the image above. So, please forgive me.
My major way back in the day at the University of Toronto was Political Science. My main interest was in International Relations, although I dabbled in Canadian and American domestic stuff too. All that being said, my entire "working life" has been spent in finance, in the non-profit sector, and doing whatever it is I'm doing now. In other words, I left my interest in politics on campus.
However, I think our current system is broken. No, this isn't a "big vs. small government" thing. That argument, as a uniquely American phenomenon, is completely irrational.
In the United States it's clear that the voters are forgotten immediately following an election. Corporate interests have complete control over politicians.
In Canada our issues are similar yet different. It seems that there has been an unspoken agreement between the electorate and the elected: We promise not to care too much what the government does, and in return our elected oficials promise not to change things very much. If the politicians don't screw that up they can be assured of being returned to power come election day. This agreement seems to have gone off the rails. The current Conservative government is using the catatonic state of the Canadian voter to shift the country to the right, based largely, it would seem, on the Prime MInister's personal ideology.
With that as background, here are some back-of-the-envelope ideas for a new politics of accountability.
You The Elected Commit to the Following:
- To do what you said you would do
If you said you would close Guantanamo Bay, then close it. If you said you would require GMO products to be labeled, then do it.
- If you change your mind--and you can--then you must tell us why
Maybe you now have a clearer vision. Maybe the facts have changed, or you now have more information. Great, that's why we are paying you - to lead. But you must tell us what has changed.
In order to facilitate this,
- You must report to the nation weekly
Yes, yes, I know. But what we have now is partisan, opposition-bashing crap. Keeping points 1 & 2 in mind, tell us what you have done this week and what is coming up. Think of it as a weekly performance review. And just so we're all clear on this, you work for us.
In Return we the Electorate Commit to the Following:
- We will vote
This is a civic duty. More importantly, if it's true that we get the government we deserve, then we better start deserving a better one. Quickly.
- We will participate
We will pay attention to the affairs of state. Each of us to a greater or lessor degree of course, but we will take an interest. And we will participate in new mechanisms to provide elected officials with feedback. You work for us, and like a good boss, we will let you know how you are doing on a regular basis. We'll keep surprises to a minimum and we will expect you to the do the same.
Does this sound naive? Simplistic? Of course it does. But looking on the bright side, it couldn't be any worse than what we have now.
We desperately need change.
There are obviously a lot of specifics that are needed for the above to work. A couple quickly come to mind, particularly around the issue of political contributions.
- A limit of $1,100 of personal political donations per individual per year
This is the current Canadian limit.
- No corporate donations
Corporate donations have been banned in Canada since 2004. There are ways to bend the rules slightly, but not to a great degree. The dominance of corporate money in American politics is truly mind-boggling.
What's that you say? Under these rules there won't be enough money to run an effective campaign? Well for starters, cut out the attack adds. Then spend your time and money telling us what you will do, not what the other person will fail to do.
That's it for now. Feel free to make suggestions.