This post is long overdue.
Millions of dollars, perhaps even billions, will be spent between now and November 2012 by countless politicians laying out their program and their plan to get voters to place a mark by their name in order to get a job that is considered “public service”. But I think the time has come for the voters to lay out their preferences and qualifications for those who want to earn our votes. We have been going about it all backward and the end result is that we have thousands of elected officials who go off to their respective office and do exactly as they please while spending our money on a public relations job to convince us they are doing what we elected them to do.
Yes, I’m one man, one vote, but if you want it, pay attention, because I am going to tell you exactly what you need to do in order to get it. I’ll start at the top, with the Presidential candidates. At some point, I may write a little more about what I want to see in a senator, and in my congressman, but I’ll leave that for another post. Are you ready? Here we go…
First of all, don’t waste your time and breath trying to convince me that you understand my position, my life, and what I have to deal with day to day, especially from a financial perspective. You do not know, and cannot pretend to know. The very fact that you are able to run for office is evidence that you don’t have the remotest understanding of what life is like for me. It’s not that it is so very bad, it is just different when most of what you work for goes to pay your living expenses and cover a little of your retirement savings, and there’s nothing left over afterward. You don’t feel it when your insurance coverage increases six or seven percent in a year, or the price of gas jumps over $1.00 a gallon in a year. I do, and it requires me to make some hard choices. So don’t act like you know anything about it. You don’t represent my interests, so get used to it, because I will hold your feet to the fire about it.
Second, because you don’t really know anything about this, please do more than just give lip service to it. Make a real effort to understand. I can’t afford to buy your attention with campaign contributions, or with time given to your election campaign because I am too busy working to put food on my table, pay for health insurance, and put a roof over my head. So if you will make an honest effort to find out what it takes to represent me, and the multiple millions of Americans who are all in the same boat, we might trust you enough to elect you President. How do you do this? With actions. They are said to speak louder than words, so why not give some real support to the positions I hold on the issues that are important to my interests? I can see through your rhetoric when you make a pledge not to raise taxes ever in your lifetime. The tax system, as it is now set up, is designed to bilk people like me, and to help those wealthy folks like you increase their wealth without really paying the cost of doing it. Don’t act like we are stupid and do not know this. Take some action that will provide us with some relief. Then we may trust you enough to elect you as President.
Stop using the term “entitlement” when it comes to my social security and medicare. I have paid a high price for these benefits over a lifetime of work. They are not entitlements, they are earnings benefits. It will be many years after I retire before the dollar amount that I paid into the system will ever be paid back to me. The odds are that I won’t even be around when that happens. Instead of doing things with the money other than what it was paid to do, take care of the program and it will work like it should without being “privatized.” That’s a code word for finding a way for a few people to make a profit off of it.
Finally, stand for something. I don’t mean tell me that you stand for something, I mean for you to actually do it. That might not be easy, and at some point, you may have to choose between your convictions and being re-elected to the office you hold. If you don’t have the integrity to do that, then I don’t want you in there anyway. This country is crying for leaders who will stand up for what they believe, but all we get are leaders who are interested in protecting their own interests. If you wonder why Congress has a single digit job approval rating, there you have it.
There is a lot of rhetoric these days about what “The American People” want, and a lot of lip flapping politicians who think they have a finger on the pulse of the country in order to know what that is. But it is only rhetoric. It’s been decades since the interests of the American people, myself included, have been represented in the national government. The very best way to earn my vote would be for someone who is like me, from my segment of society at large, to run for office. Since that is clearly not going to happen this time around, the next best thing is to find a politician who is willing to listen to what I have to say, and to act on it.
There is no time like the present. There’s how you can earn my vote. Don’t expect to get it if you aren’t willing to give this some consideration.