Back in the old days (and TDV remembers those days, barely) there was an ethos in politics: you were expected to be courteous and respectful of others, even those with differing points of view.
Well, those days, which lasted from roughly the Post-War period through the 1970’s, are long gone. Today, in American politics, it is not only OK to viciously attack those with whom you disagree, it is expected, a de facto prerequisite to participate in politics.
What happened? Well, the economy went south in the 1970’s and 1980’s and the purchasing power of working people in particular was hammered by inflation. Republicans cleverly exploited people’s angst by blaming it all on the government, and Democrats acquiesced.
Then came the internet and cable TV, and it was the people who shouted the loudest and attacked their opponents who got the most attention and were elected to public office.
To make matters worse, the Supreme Court in the Citizens’ United decision in 2010 held that money is an expression free speech, opening the floodgates to a tidal wave of special interest spending. This has only served to reinforce the shouting and mud-slinging that now passes for political debate in this country.
What to do about it? Well, the most obvious answer is to boot Donald Trump from office, since he is the culmination, the very epitome, of all that has gone wrong with our political system over decades since the 1980’s.
But we also believe it is not enough simply to oppose Trump. We must repair and rebuild our political culture and system so we treat people with respect; hold accountable those who don’t, and demand that elected officials actually do their jobs.
Here are a just a few obvious steps we could take to help heal a divisive culture and a broken political system:
- We should ban political advertising on television because you can’t inform in 30 seconds. It has become all negative attack ads that only inflame passions rather than foster real debate.
- We should give candidates free debate time on public television. After all, public television is subsidized by our tax dollars. Let’s use that subsidy to help foster a serious discussion of the important issues we face, rather than simply attack one’s opponents.
- We should challenge Citizens’ United and limit the amount of money in politics.
- We should insist that Congress actually do its job and require full disclosure of political contributions. There is simply no excuse for the amount of “dark money” in politics – except that our elected officials refuse to do anything about.
- Also, and perhaps most importantly, let’s have term limits for those serving in Congress, so we routinely get fresh ideas and new blood from people who have not spent an entire career pandering to special interests for campaign donations.
And we are just warming up! Are you listening @TheDemocrats. It is not enough to simply oppose Trump. Tell us where you stand on the issues, and propose solutions, so we never, ever wind up in this place – ever again.