How to Shake Up Washington
“These are the times that try men’s souls.”
Thomas Paine Author of “Common Sense” 1776
The Big One
I say, “Let’s shake up Washington.”
You answer, “Jim, it’s already shaking. Have you been to Washington lately? It’s an earthquake zone.”
True, there are seismic shock waves emanating from the Capitol, and they are radiating outward to the country and the world, but an earthquake can be either—things falling apart, or things shaking together.
Our political hearts are breaking. Some people are angry because the agenda and promises are not being fulfilled. Others are gravely concerned because of the administration’s vision for America. It is true, political quakes are occurring. They are self-inflicted. Our hands are at our own throats, but the “Big One” is yet to come. It may be that the political quakes we are currently experiencing are the precursors of the earthquake in which things shake together.
There are fundamental problems we have been unwilling to solve. We accept them as the norm, or they are so engrained we simply throw-up our hands and think there is nothing we can do about them.
Let The Rumbling Begin
- People in “power” want to remain in power. This is human nature. Evidence of this is gerrymandering or redistricting. It manipulates district boundaries to win elections and maintain political dominance. It is out in the open, and it is playing dirty, and we the people, the voters, have allowed it. If we want to shake up Washington as well as local and state governments, let’s dismantle gerrymandering and face head-on the human tendency to want to stay in power.
- Here’s another way to shake up Washington. I have served on at least one board for over 40 years, sometimes more than one board in a year, and in most cases an office holder was limited to serving two terms; then it was necessary for him or her to leave office for a year before running for office again. Believe me, term limits change the motivation of office holders, and term limits allow new ideas and perspectives to enter the creative process.
Let’s stomp our feet and send a shock wave through the lives of the career politicians in Washington by beginning a dialogue about the advantages and disadvantages of term limits.
- Here are two more possibilities for shaking up Washington… look closely at the influence of Political Action Committees (PACS) on our elections and lobbyists on legislation. Our presidential elections are seemingly eternal; they go on and on. It takes nearly a billion dollars to become president of the United States. PACS should be examined in great detail because of their financial influence on candidates and elections. The laws governing PACS need eternal review. And lobbying needs scrutiny as well because it is associated with such phrases as “conflict of interest” and “political corruption.”
- Let’s simply our tax codes. What if the tax rate was 10% for everyone? No deductions. Obviously, the more you make, the more you give. Simple…but it would have to be phased in because of the health and well-being of the businesses that service our current tax system. We need to help and assist the transformation of this sector of our economy. It can be done. Numbers need to be run to determine the effect on our national budget, but simplicity is its own gift.
Strike the Sacred Sands
It is strange how something written over 200 years ago is relevant today. “These are the times that try men’s souls.” How did Thomas Paine know? There are turmoil and tremors. We wonder if things are falling apart. Perhaps they are. It certainly felt that way in 1776, but there was also a vision of freedom and liberty. A revolution was coming; perhaps another revolution looms, one that will shake our current foundation and cause things to come together as they never have before.
We are evolving as a nation. Amendments are added to the Constitution. Slavery is no more, women can vote, discrimination is perpetually challenged, but we have also created systems that serve the human tendency to remain in power, to maintain the status quo, to perpetuate self-interests, and to favor the financially powerful.
The Big One is coming. It waits for us; watching for a sign, for us to say enough and to raise our feet in unison and strike the sacred sands of our nation and send a shock wave through Washington.