Richard Danziger

Owner,

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How do we compel our politicians to truly work for us?

We hear that most polls indicate that politicians are not trust worthy. Politicians are described as being in the pocket of a union, a lobby, a special interest. Every day and week and month and year, there is yet another story of HUGE GOVERNMENT waste of our precious resources, usually meaning money and the things that it will buy.

Politicians generally don't go to jail for their misdeeds and their crimes. The public would like them to repay society but we rely upon the "thieves" to patrol themselves. And they don't do it.

Politicians have their main focus as being in office and then from day one in office their focus is reelection. They seem to forget the part for which they were elected.

Surveys show, for a great many years, that most Americans favor term limits. Every year, many politicians promise to institute term limits, BUT IT NEVER COMES TO PASS!!!!!!

We vote out one "crook" and another seems to take his place.

We tell our congressman, senators, mayors and president exactly what we want and they promise to give it to us, and 4 years later, they haven't.

Should we demand a referendum on say, Term Limits, to take place within 3 months time, with the warning to each of our Congressman and Senators that failure on the part of any representative will cause the voters in each state to initiate a recall of that representative.

How do we really get these so called representatives to represent us, directly and honestly?

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    Dec 8 2011: You might find this link interesting:

    http://www.truth-out.org/why-iceland-should-be-news-not/1322327303

    It is an article about Icelanders recovering their sovereign rights, through a process of direct participatory democracy that eventually led to a new Constitution.

    Is it possible that what is happening here in microcosm, could also be extrapolated globally?

    Edited to add quote from final paragraph:

    "...Refusing to bow to foreign interests, that small country stated loud and clear that the people are sovereign.

    That’s why it is not in the news anymore".
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    Dec 4 2011: There is an old adage in politics: You can please ALL of the people SOME of the time, and SOME of the people ALL of the time, but you can never please ALL of the people ALL of the time. This is as important for politicians to know as it is for citizens.

    In this case, what it boils down to is that there is really no such thing as waste. Money does not simply disappear; it is going somewhere. The only question is whether the recipient of that money is someone you think is deserving of it. When huge contracts go to rightest interests, leftists complain. When money goes to leftist interests, rightists complain. About the only time there is mutual complaint is when money goes to foreign interests. About the only time there is mutual agreement is when the money is coming from foreign sources.

    I do not agree that there should be term limits (in the sense you use it) for members of Congress.

    First, there is a bit of an acclimation process. New representatives are like trainees, only they don't have trainers. They have to learn by doing, and part of doing is getting to know your fellow employees -- their moods, mannerisms, styles, and beliefs. Bills can only be passed by mutual agreement, and if you can't relate to your coworkers, you are going to have a tough time passing legislation which you feel is representative of your constituency. Part of this means learning to compromise on one issue so that you can gain allies on another issue. Such compromise can often cause the constituents who elected you to shout "Hey, do the job we voted you in for!" It's easy to sit on the sidelines and grumble about the quarterback's performance, but it's much harder to take the hike, avoid a rush, look for an open player, and make a critical decision when the moment demands it -- all while managing to save face. I hope you don't mind the football analogy, it just seemed apt. :)

    Second, bills take time to pass. There is a process, and it's important. [More on that later, out of room.]
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      Dec 5 2011: Joseph, thanks for the comments. I truly appreciate it.

      Now for the not so nice sounding comments. Look, we all understand why things might be difficult to accomplish. We get it. We've all heard the arguments you put forth as to why legislators and their "process" are so slow.

      BUT...

      You are arguing to maintain a process that continuously fails. How do we know it fails? Ask anyone if they are happy with the work their elected officials produce. The answer is NO!!!!

      You argue that there is an acclimation process, blah blah blah..... Thanks for giving us reasons why our legislators should fail.

      Could you possibly come up with a reason that they could succeed?

      Most senators, governors and congressman comport themselves like Rock Stars, Nobel Winners, people who have done a great deal of positive things to benefit their constituency.

      I DON'T KNOW WHY!!

      I don't see evidence that anyone of them has achieved anything worth while. Perhaps you can enlighten us as to what evidence there is that the process, as is, works.

      In fact, NO TERM LIMITS builds fiefdoms and that stinks. We have Senators and Congressman exploiting us all the time. Lobbyists understand who controls the checkbook. And they keep on going to the same guy year after year. The incentive for the lobbyist to continue to back, say Obama is that he and the entire Democratic Party will reward him tremendously. And if the lobbyist backs another candidate, his enterprise is dead in the water.

      WE NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT WE HAVE LEGISLATORS that are capable from DAY 1, not the 3rd year. I don't want legislators to compromise or make friends. I want them to enforce the will of the majority of their constituency. That's it.

      We don't believe these guys are particularly bright or capable. They simply have the job to vote the will of their constituency. They need to be honest and capable from Day 1 or we must recall them until we get the right one in place.
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        Dec 5 2011: Richard,

        Thanks for your civility. This can be a touchy subject. Don't take me for being curt, but space limitations and all, blech. :)

        "Lobbyists understand who controls the checkbook."

        Then join or create a lobby suitable to your tastes. Be a part of the process, instead of sitting on the sidelines complaining that the process doesn't work. The process works fine if you act as if you are part of the team, and not just the guy who gets to be proud he wore the winning team's logo on his shirt. In other words, just wearing the shirt didn't help your team win. They won because they practiced and they gave it their best, which happened to be good enough to score more than their opponents. They may have appreciated your moral support, but they won the game, not you.

        "And they keep on going to the same guy year after year."

        The incumbent is the one with the most credibility, the most experience, and who has the greatest likelihood of achieving the goals he or she has been working on for several years.

        "WE NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT WE HAVE LEGISLATORS that are capable from DAY 1, not the 3rd year."

        This is a legitimate assertion. But think about what you're asking in terms of the big picture. You want someone who knows how to a job they've never done before. You also want to unseat the very people who do know how to do that job. Your two wants are mutually exclusive, and until you reconcile them (read: compromise), you will never achieve the change you so seem to desperately want.

        "I don't want legislators to compromise or make friends."

        You want your cake and to eat it, too! If you have it, you can say "I have cake." If you eat it, you can enjoy the cake, but then you no longer have it. You have to decide which you want more: cake for the sake of cake, or cake for the sake of eating it.

        "I want them to enforce the will of the majority of their constituency. That's it."

        You want the will of the majority enforced, but what about minority concerns?
        ___

        Much Love
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          Dec 6 2011: First of all, wouldn't it be lovely if you and I could solve the whole thing right here and now.

          "Join a Lobby."
          YOU MISS THE POINT. We the voters are the biggest lobby already. But there are smaller parts of our group, funded by personal greed, business greed and ..., who can and do outspend us.

          We may not have the checkbook that lobbyists have, but we don't need it. They do because they don't have a majority of the voters on their side. We are already the majority. Our checkbook is our right to vote and our greater numbers. Our checkbook, so to speak, is our right of RECALL.

          Lobbyists, greatly outweighed may vote as well, but their numbers doom them to failure. Therefore their checkbook.

          "You want someone who knows how to a job they've never done before."
          Who said that? If you're hearing voices, then you're either a priest and therefore a holy man or a schizophrenic. Just joking!
          Our politicians tell us that they are great thinkers, managers, listeners, financial planners, strategists and everything else that we might want and need from a President, Senator, Congressman, governor, etc. They tell us and plead with us to believe them. And what is so difficult about government that there is your perceived multiyear learning curve?
          for example: Maintain our roads. Set a standard for what is a good road in good condition, inspect the road upon a good schedule and maintain it without giving the contract to your brother in law at triple the going rate. Now explain to me/us why that requires a learning curve.
          "You also want to unseat the very people who do know how to do that job. "
          HUH? Where have you been? If they knew how to do the job, and then did it, We would not want to unseat them. Why do you blindly assume that because they are in office that they know what they're doing? If they know what they're doing or how to do it, then the reason that they fail to do it well is........

          Best, Rich
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        Dec 6 2011: Rich,

        Yes, it /would/ be nice if we could come to a mutual understanding.

        "YOU MISS THE POINT"

        I think you are misunderstanding what a lobby is. One often hears reports in the media about how a small but rich lobby petitions Congress, using ridiculous amounts of money to support a minority cause, one that do not reflect the will of the majority of the people. But this is only one example of a lobby; as you note "We the voters are the biggest lobby already." That is more accurate. A lobby is simply a group who exercises their right to petition government. You don't need millions of dollars to be a lobby. You only need to make an effort to contact your representatives and tell them exactly what it is you want. You can do this with protests, you can do it with money, or you can do it with letters. Now with the internet at nearly everyone's disposal, it is possible to write hundreds if not thousands of letters a day, to get a diverse spectrum of signatories to petitions, and to get these petitions into the hands of the representatives in mere seconds instead of the days or weeks it used to take.

        So when I am saying Join a Lobby, I am saying, find a cause about which you are passionate, and stick to it! But beware inadvertent compromise: Many leftist environmentalists, for example, are dismayed to discover that they're suddenly allied with rightest conservation groups. Proponents of free speech may be dismayed to find that they're being forced to side with Hate Groups. That's compromise, and that's how our Republic functions.

        "Maintain our roads."

        How are people elected to represent a wide variety of causes supposed to be experts on Transportation, when they're also asked to be experts on Economics, Health Care, Defense, Crime and Punishment, Constitutional Liberties, Elections, Foreign Policy, Communications, Agriculture, and Labor? In short, they're not. That's where lobbies and committees enter the equation. In short, they need time to study proposals.

        Regards,
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          Dec 7 2011: thanks for the dialogue. It's fun.
          Of course everyone can be part of a lobby, with or without large amounts of money. And to be sure, the internet is a wonderful tool for creating a group that is large. But 1 man from a lobby holding a check for $10,000,000 will get much further with the politician than a group of say 1,000 people.

          I would guess that you've never run a larger business or had everyone directly responsible to you. That is not meant to be a meanie statement in any form, just a guess or observation. I don't know you or your history. But I know that a real leader whether in business, science, teaching, sports, music, etc is ready and capable to lead from the start. A good leader will get better after time, to be sure. We need to elect people that ready to govern (i did not say lead), from day one. They should arrive in office assured of the correct direction for the concerns of the office or not apply.

          If they are not ready from day one, who will be their teacher? Hopefully not another Senator or Congressman. You still can't name 5 decent guys in the entire country can you. You might name guys who are less inept, but not capable. That's a shame.

          Tell me on what national security issues do your senators or congressman consult with you and your neighbors? Do they ask you about immigration, border security, airline security, what???

          I listen to CLOWNS that have no formal education (if such exists or would be valuable) in the field of national security, health care reform, Crime and Punishment, etc.

          Who are the experts in these matters? They may exist, but they're nowhere to be found in government. Or they may not exist. I don't want my representatives passing policy without first consulting we the people. We're smarter than them. We are not paid off. We're not running for office. We just want to live great lives.
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        Dec 7 2011: R, yes, it is good to exchange ideas, even if we don't agree. Perhaps /especially/ when we don't agree?

        "But 1 man from a lobby holding a check for $10,000,000 will get much further with the politician than a group of say 1,000 people."

        In a group of 1001 people, that's 1001 potential votes. Do you really think a lobby with 10mil is going to outspend the adversary by a margin of 1000:1? What sort of sense would that make, with so little odds of achieving the goal? Let's say the 1k group raises 50,000. The 1 man group could just as easily outspend it with 100k, and save 9.9m in the process. This is much more plausible. Now, if you can provide a link or other citation showing such a discrepancy in lobby spending is the norm, I'd be more inclined to evaluate it further. As is, it sounds like an alarmist substantiation.

        "... a real leader... is ready and capable to lead from the start."

        I don't know where you get this idea. It sounds as nothing so much as wishful thinking.

        "You still can't name 5 decent guys in the entire country can you."

        Here is where we really part ways. I personally feel like Congress is doing a pretty good job. I don't always agree with every decision that's made, and I have a strong distaste for partisan stonewalling, but by and large, the members of Congress are doing exactly what they should be doing. The ones who disappoint their particular constituents will be voted out, assuming the district has a viable replacement at hand. That's the process, and I think it works just fine.

        "Who are the experts in these matters?"

        Some /are/ members of Congress. Just look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Members_of_the_111th_United_States_Congress#Occupational_background to get a grasp on the 111th (112 hasn't been updated yet). In other fields, they listen to experts in each respective field, or do independent research.

        "We're not running for office."

        That may be your biggest error. We /are/, but when we get there, ill-informed people complain.
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          Dec 8 2011: Hi Joseph, I hope all is well.

          You miss the point. Lobbyists purchase their legislators. Voters simply vote. Legislators are myopic. They only follow the donations, not the votes.

          Our real point of divergence is that you believe the legislature is doing pretty good work. Well over 65% of the country disagrees with you on both sides of the aisle.

          We are in debt to the tune of $13 trillion dollars.
          Our unemployment rate is really closer to 20% than 10%.
          Our roads and infrastructure are in shambles.
          Our place in the hierarchy of world education leading countries is at an all time low.
          Cities are going bankrupt (Pittsburgh and many more).
          Counties are going bankrupt.
          States are not allowed to go bankrupt.
          We are in the 10th year of war in Afghanistan. Why? While there, Afghanistan has become the greatest producer and importer of Opium to the U.S. in the world. How do they do this on our watch, with our troops, under our generals? Easy they send it home with our troops on military planes and ships. How else? FedEx?
          Most of our debt is owned not by allies but by countries who compete at a very high level with us such as the Chinese.
          Our borders are porous.
          We have 20+ million Hispanics in this country who have not learned to speak English properly or at any functional level. They may be here legally or illegally but these people, wonderful or otherwise, have caused the U.S. to lose even more of the middle class. Their lack of higher education, supported by legislators looking for a vote, creates a huge burden on our infrastructure as well.
          We are in a neverending no win war in Iraq. It was a mistake to enter the country, a mistake to occupy and a bigger mistake to stay.
          We are standing by idle while the lunatic in Iran builds nuclear weapons.
          We pursue fracking even while we fully understand that it causes earth quakes. Check it out. It is not hysteria speaking.
          Our legislators help send jobs our of this country to China, Mexico, etc.
          Peace
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          Dec 8 2011: One more quick note; I have been fortunate to work with a good many private citizens in creating some wonderfully beneficial things for many, great business, great art, new ideas.

          "... a real leader... is ready and capable to lead from the start."

          I don't know where you get this idea. It sounds as nothing so much as wishful thinking.

          I'm sorry that you've not had the experience. It is poetry to witness, not wishful thinking.

          It is not uncommon either. The leader may be Magic Johnson entering the LA Lakers in 1980 and leading Kareem Abdul Jabbar to a world championship in his first year. Maybe it Larry Bird the next year. Perhaps it was Steve Jobs, who saw a window where technology could lead us. He created a need that we did not know existed.
          It may have been Simon Bolivar or Che. John Kennedy had some extremely wonderful moments. Lyndon Johnson, for all his incredibly disgusting faults, took this country forward 100 years with his Great Society. They were born leaders.

          Leaders are born leaders and naturally lead. You can see it in a 5 year old on the playground. His mom or dad may be the same way or opposite. It doesn't matter. The kid is a leader. Ghandi was a born leader as are many teachers, plumbers, architects etc.

          Leadership is who a person is. Sometimes it may take a bit of time to acquire the mechanical skills to implement leadership in a field, but not a long time at all. Certainly not years.

          I could regale you with stories of 50 leaders that I know personally that were leading from day one. They had no experience. At age 16, I got a Christmas job at Macy's Herald Square. I am a leader. After one day, they put me in charge of over 40 adults, in a field, at 16 years of age, that I had no experience in. I did a great job. In fact, I was offered a permanent job in management when I finished school in a year and a half. I did not take it by the way.

          Leaders know how to lead from day one. This is fact, not whimsy.
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        Dec 8 2011: Richard, things seem to be well, all things considered. Hope you are well, too.

        I agree, there are many problems we are facing as a nation. However, I don't believe that the system itself is broken. I also think that many of your claims are based on the rhetoric of your personal view, and not on how the government actually functions. It may be that there is no reconciliation of views possible in this dispute, so I will not herein address them.

        In terms of leaders, I also disagree.

        I don't consider Jobs to have been a leader in the sense of the word you seem to convey it as. He was a man with the right idea at the right time and he went for it, finding success. He was no different in that regard than any other success story in the American business landscape.

        LBJ did not start out as JFK's VP, he had a history in Congress before that, learning as he went, just like everyone else does. And yes, it took years.

        I don't consider athletes to be real leaders, unless they actually go on to serve in business or politics, like Jim Ryun did. Still, as an avowed "unfan" of sports, I don't consider their sports background to be relevant to the role they serve.

        Bolivar, Che, and Ghandi... were all people living in different times, in different "countries," under different conditions. Did they eventually become leaders? Yes. Were their leadership skills instantaneous? No, I don't think so. Did everyone agree with them? No. Are there reasonable criticisms of each of them? Yes.

        Not so different from members of Congress, after all.

        You think: "Leaders know how to lead from day one."
        I think: "Leaders learn how to lead."
        This is a matter of perspective.
        Insisting otherwise is whimsy, not fact.

        _____

        No hard feeling intended in language-twisting the words of your last sentence.
        _____

        I wish you all the best; you seem like a thoughtful person, and I hope you use that capacity to fully investigate and evaluate your beliefs, rather than use it to rationalize them.

        Much Love
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          Dec 8 2011: Joseph,

          I am a thoughtful though not very bright person hugely involved in planet, helping as much as possible on a daily basis. As I'm not very bright, I have to work at it harder than most. Ask my employees or kids. They'll attest to the fact that I'm rather dull, but my actions attest to the fact that i get things done rather than investigate them for years on end. Making things work and serve us is the point. First understanding that a problem exists is important. Next fixing it, using whatever ethical manners may be available, is the thing. If that includes investigation, then good. But fixing is critical, not jawing about it til the cows come home.

          Thanks for the fun!

          See you on another conversation.

          Best
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    Dec 4 2011: The political atmosphere in the United States has become so polluted that it is beginning to choke and stifle our democracy. Political pundits routinely evaluate the prospects of candidates, not according to their qualifications or experience, but on their ability to raise money and smear their opponents. Achieving high political office has become less a matter of cream rising to the top than how deep into the mud one is willing to sink.

    In virtually every employment situation except politics, candidates are required to present a clear, factual, and verifiable accounting of qualifications and experiences. A responsible employer carefully screens and evaluates applicants according to their potential to effectively carry out the duties and responsibilities of the position. No one who applies for a job is able to design his or her own selection process, and anyone who presents misleading information is eliminated from consideration.

    People who are most likely to be elected to political office are those who have or can raise significant amounts of money and are most effective in their efforts to make their opponents look bad. Those who retain office are often those who are most effective at pleasing special interest lobbyists who provide significant funding for political campaigns. These abilities have absolutely no relationship to qualities of leadership, debate, planning, or problem solving required to manage government. Our election process simply makes no sense in terms of selecting the wisest and most qualified leaders. It is a house of cards built with thousand-dollar bills.

    The Clean Politics Act is a ballot proposal for States that brings the same procedures and accountability to politics that exist for employees in successful enterprises. Politicians say they work for the people. It’s time that we become more effective in hiring and supervising our employees.

    link to the Clean Politics Act: http://bobvanoosterhout.com/id118.html
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      Dec 4 2011: I just saw you link. I read it once and will reread it again tomorrow. Thanks for the work. I will send you further comments shortly.
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    Dec 4 2011: I think it is more than voting people out. You have to pick your issues and organize people who care about these issues to be vocal in there support or condemnation of certain politicians. basically form your own lobby. With the internet it can be done on the cheap, and it can have an effect on the local level. As for the national level that is a bit more difficult.
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      Dec 4 2011: I agree with you wholeheartedly that the internet is a hugely valuable tool in this equation. But I also know it is realistic to KNOW that most politicians don't care what we the people think. Their only concern is staying in office or getting there in the first place. After they've achieved office, their next goal is to stay in office, not serve you and me.

      Politicians including Presidents, Senators, congressman, mayors, etc have little or no regard for what you or I or political groups think unless or until we truly make an impact on their plans on getting to or staying in office. THAT IS IT!!!!

      It is not headline news when politicians don't keep their word. It might be if they kept their word. That's a shame. We vote for our politicians for terms of 2,3, 4, and 6 years generally. If they are not doing what we need them to do NOW, then we need to do more than speak to them as a voting group. We need to hold the THREAT and REALITY of immediate recall over their head, and we must use it quickly where called for.

      If we use RECALL quickly a significant amount, we will have a responsive politician who listens to the group formed by our internet. Otherwise, it will be business as usual.

      He will simply court our organized internet group while seeking election and then after obtaining office, do what he would have done had he not known of our internet group.
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    Dec 3 2011: i think that becuase of the way our gorernment and political system is set up, the most effective way to change it is to rise up against it. i think the reason more people dont rise up against it is becuase they're so caught up in work, or school and always trying to get more money or be happy. if we could make people more happy and teach them how to be more entreprenurial, they wouldnt be so preoccudied with putting food on the table and would be more likely to follow a dedicated leader.