Dear Big Daddy,
You’re supposed be the expert, so what would you do to reform the political environment in the Capitol?
–Anxious in Arcata
For starters, I’d make the governorship a part-time job. It’s clear from the past six years – actually the past 10 years – that full-time governors do more damage than good. The physicians’ credo carries weight here – “First, do no harm.”
Second, I would outlaw direct initiatives. Voters truly are the weak link in a Democracy, and nothing demonstrates that fact better than the interminable, perpetual, mind-numbing, costly ballot initiative campaigns that do nothing but inundate the public with fraudulent, televised half-truths and leave important public policy in the lurch. Propagating half-truths is the job of legislative leaders, not political consultants and media buyers. Leave it to the pros.
Third, I would extend civil service protections to the staff members of the Legislature to protect them from mercurial and peripatetic bosses caught in the revolving door of campaigns and fundraisers. As a corollary, I would require all legislators to take anger-management training. This will make them mad, but they are, anyway.
Fourth, I would require the meeting schedules of all lawmakers and constitutional officers – including the governor – to be made public.
Fifth, I would allow simple-majority votes on budgets and new taxes, in both the Legislature and at the local level.
Sixth, I would require lobbyists to wear arm bands with “L” printed in a bright color. Preferably hot pink.
Seventh, I probably couldn’t get popular agreement here, but I’d like to bar Republicans from civilized society and make membership in the GOP a criminal offense. Some of my best friends are Republicans, but this is bidness.
Eighth, I would require all Capitol reporters to stop trying to write truthful news and concentrate instead on punditry, bloviation, inanity and innuendo. It’s far easier to expound than it is to report, and if they engage in opinionated coverage, the Democrats will come off looking better than ever.
Ninth, I would require reporters to file financial disclosure statements, and include any money they earn from giving speeches, moderating seminars, freelancing and the like.
And finally, I would require public financing of campaigns. Since everybody is affected by the Capitol’s lawmaking, everybody should contribute a minimum of $20 at tax time to a public campaign treasury that will be divvied up by an independent commission. All candidates, regardless of personal wealth, would be required to use public funds.