Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Don't know John Kerry?

According to The Washington Post, most Americans don't know John Kerry or what he stands for.

I'm sorry, but let's be honest. That's not a criticism of John Kerry. Americans apparently can't spare the time to crack a book, and figure out who represents their interests.

America is in crisis. We started an unnecessary war that has shattered our reputation. Our military is overstretched and our enemies know it. Meanwhile, our nation is being taken over by corporations that don't care about America or Americans. (In fact, I'm not certain that the average corporation would care about Joe Public even if he was a shareholder!)

What's the answer? How about a lobbying group for the average American. Kind of like an honest AARP for non-retired folks.

Corporations spend millions on lobbying and political contributions. Working families* don't. Of course, there are special interest groups that throw a lot of cash around in Washington. Groups like the NRA, NARAL, unions and the religious right. However, these issues are really only on the periphery of the average American's political vision.

Americans need an organization that is designed to lobby for the American people in Washington. Something that can offset the influence of corporations and the ultra-wealthy.

Let's call this hypothetical organization the American People's Lobby (APL).

When the Republicans push their "no millionaire left behind" agenda, the APL will show its members how each piece of legislation will affect them. The APL will warn its members that when the Republicans give their rich pals a free ride, they are passing on the cost to America's working families (or rather, their children). The APL will even tell its members when Democratic proposals (like importing drugs from Canada) actually have no chance of working.

Is an APL a practical idea. I'm not sure. Can an organization with more than 100 million members stay honest? Will American's trust it? Will people join? What will be the benefits of membership? How will the APL reach its conclusions?

The AARP has already shown how these organizations can fail in their mission. By becoming a big health care insurance firm, AARP became one of the organizations it was supposed to police. As far as I can tell, the AARP is now just another insurance company that thinks the recent (and daft) Medicare prescription drug bill was a good idea.

The APL shouldn't be needed. The U.S. Government is supposed to represent the American people. We, the people, are supposed to exercise our power through informed voting. Unfortunately, most Americans are too lazy to look out for their own interests. Perhaps the APL will give working Americans the opportunity to abdicate their civic duty for $40 a year.

*For my purposes, a working family is one with annual household income less than $200,000 per year. I believe that covers about 98% of the U.S. population.


Nevin ":-)" said...

It is sad that most Americans don't know what John Kerry stands for.

Part of that is the media: you won't get that information from the occasional sound byte. They are far more concerned with him throwing the first baseball than actual issues. Romantic notions about journalism aside, they are in the business of selling newspapers/advertisements.

How would the information effect the vote? Maybe the polls are different, but asking my (admittedly biased) circle of people I know, there are basically two camps: pro-Bush and anti-Bush. Not pro-Kerry, but anti-Bush. And for the most part, both camps are not particularly happy about the upcoming four years, even if their candidate wins.

Now, due to the Nader effect (perceived or real; it doesn't matter) in the 2000 election, the anti-Bush camp has also realized that the only practical choice this time around is voting for Kerry.

People should be more informed, but it isn't particularly relevant for the upcoming election, at least on the presidential level.

Get involved! Track your senators' and representative's votes by e-mail at http://capwiz.com/liberty/megavote/. Want to do more? Start with local politics; you have more of a chance of making a difference there.

rob said...

Bouncing back and forth between the two parties,their respective backers and their policies is costing the United States too much in terms of just about everything.I am not scapegoating anyone in particular, however, I have less faith in the system itself.I have no faith in the experts and their opinions.

Such a group as you propose would be a great thing if it was free from ulterior motives as you suggest.Damn,I've become so cynical as I've gotten older.What a shame.

Such a group would need to rise to a very high level of prominence in order to gain the momentum necessary to have an effect.When you are ready to start such a group you can count on my support.

I would like to see a steering committee type org.
so as the government would implement a predescribed direction instead of the doing and undoing of policy and the catering to groups instead of the needs of the individual.I just have a feeling the answer lies somewhere in the middle as usual.