Election leaves future
Clinton came to power in a decisive victory
over George Bush in 1992 in what Clinton called a "mandate for fundamental
However, the passage of the Family and
Medical Leave Fairness Act, vetoing a few of the most disastrous of the
Republican Congress bills and deftly spinning the truth to avoid impeachment,
hardly qualified as fundamental reforms of the government.
So what can we expect of a president who
wins with the slimmest margin of votes possible and has both the House
and Senate at almost perfect parity?
Well, considering the amount of money raised
in this election -- the most of any yet -- if there is fundamental change,
it is most likely the consolidation of power into fewer and fewer hands
of the already powerful big businesses and big government coalition.
In secret meetings, wealthy executives
are literally buying your elected representatives' future votes with legal
So what do corporations know that we don't?
Well, why do you think they spend so much money, energy and time in supporting
their favorite candidates and often supporting both sides of the campaigns?
Because they can expect to get something
We must learn from the corporate agenda
how to manipulate our own government, keeping in mind that this is the
right thing to do (assuming that a democracy should diffuse power out among
the people and not a tyranny of the privileged few).
Now that this election is over, it is time
to ensure that money counts for less and that the views of the people count
Perhaps, like corporations, we should take
our right to influence government policies very seriously. Your role as
citizen is as important as your commitment to your church group, family,
education or career.
To be a whole person, one must realize
that there are opportunities to act in improving the community. Participating
more fully in political action is one of them.
Real civic involvement can be as challenging
as one wishes. As one gains in experience, the level of commitment can
also increase. Nothing less than a Jeffersonian revolution is in order
to check the ongoing consolidation of corporate and governmental entrenchment.
It is easier to stay informed today as
to how each representative is voting in Congress. People should stay informed
by reading the newspaper, not relying too heavily on one source or simply
watching the television news.
Corporations and the wealthy form groups
to pursue their combined interests. We should not miss an opportunity to
team up in order to make our voices heard in government. If you peruse
the yellow pages under "Social Serv Organizations," you will find at least
200 organizations that need civically-minded volunteers. Also one could
devote time to one of the four major parties that are active in Harris
This tool was meant to help voters perform
an end run around bureaucratic gridlock. Citizens are able to gather the
required number of petition signatures to put policy issues on the ballot
to be directly voted into law. This potentially valuable tool has had disappointing
results this time around because corporate cooption.
However, this was only possible because
we have abdicated responsibility in this area.
We should limit the time of the campaigns
to three months, publicly finance the candidates and give equal air time
to candidates who have a well-organized campaign. Term limits such as those
imposed on the president should also be imposed on Congress, although they
don't have to be set at two terms like the presidency.
If 2 million people volunteered 100 hours
and gathered $100 a year for political action, that would amount to 800
million man hours and $800 million that could be used toward increasing
our influence on our own government.
This is the most likely way that we can
affect our democracy, not by electing a president and then going home feeling
that our obligations as citizens have been fulfilled for the next four