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December 9, 2008

On the Right Side: Election process in dire need of changes


Now that the elections are over (as soon as Al Franken admits his defeat), we can all start the recovery process and get back to our normal lives.

It is ridiculous that the primaries and the election campaigning took two years to complete. What do these people do for us? Aren't they supposed to be getting something done on our behalf in Congress? Do you really think they realize their whole purpose of being there is to serve the people and not self-aggrandizement? It's starting to get a little out of hand.

Wouldn't it be nice if the process could be changed? I've got a few suggestions. No. 1 _ how about a six-month primary period and a six-month election period? With all the mass communication outlets, shouldn't that be enough time to get a message across?

No. 2 _ Each presidential candidate gets $100 million. That should be more than enough, maybe even too much. Then we wouldn't get a deluge of phone calls, pamphlets, advertisements, and all the other major nuisances that disrupt our lives.

No. 3 _ Each candidate issues an upfront statement of his or her platform on a variety of issues, along with his beliefs and value system clearly. No waffling and flip-flopping depending on the audience you are addressing. The issues can be as numerous as they desire but certainly would cover foreign policy, a domestic agenda, and social issues. A leader should be able to stand tall, not be afraid of offending certain groups, and present his beliefs and stances in a clear and cogent fashion.

No. 4 _ We, the voters, will have to be responsible enough to realize that there will never be a perfect candidate. We must look at the entire package being offered and not be single-issue voters. That is selfish and ignorant. If there are issues that you don't agree with, get more involved in the party and have an impact.

No. 5 _ Candidates should have more debates for both the presidential and vice presidential positions. Also, these debates should be led by a strong moderator. If the candidate does not directly address the question being asked, the moderator should interrupt and remind the candidate to stay on topic. If this doesn't work, then the moderator should shut off the microphone, and the candidate loses any remaining time.

All of the debates this year were pretty much ineffective. Presently, the candidates come in with a list of objectives they want to get across and don't seem to care what the question being posed.

Along with this, the questions should be considered by a bipartisan panel and relevant ones agreed on and chosen. All the wacko ones can be thrown out. Then the questions would be drawn randomly from a drum and simply read. Some of the debates could be in a town hall-like setting, and individual audience members could read the questions.

No. 6 _ The candidates have to appear at least once on all the news networks, including cable. They have to be able to face hostile audiences as well as friendly ones. A true, strong leader with a belief system shouldn't be afraid to stand up and support what he or she truly believes.

How about this one? News media actually report, and only report, the news. I don't give a hoot what some self-anointed hot shot has to say. My neighbor's viewpoint means just as much, if not more. Don't try to slickly hide your biases in your opinions. Just report.

Finally, give us a clear choice. All politicians are beginning to behave in the same way. They forget all about us when they get elected and are more concerned with what social cocktail parties or what lobbyist they are supposed to meet with this week. Our ballot should have the option available to vote "none of the above." I certainly would have chosen that option this election. Give us a strong candidate with conservative beliefs as well as one with liberal beliefs. If "none of the above" gets the majority, the parties have to go with another choice. They might get the hint that kowtowing to special interest groups and choosing a pabulum candidate won't win the day any more.

Pie in the sky, wishful thinking? Maybe, but a few changes would be welcomed.

People have been coming up to me suggesting that I should find a few good things to say about our president elect. That's going to be hard since he hasn't done anything yet other than make a few good Cabinet choices. I'll try real hard, however, and include them in my next column.

Merry Christmas everyone!

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Tom Sears is a professor of accounting at Hartwick College in Oneonta. He can be reached at SearsT@hartwick.edu. His column appears every other week.