Stumbled upon an article today on salon.com, I’ve never visited this site before, and looking at the endless array of sensationalized headlines across the right-hand side I probably never will again. But the article, although long, covers some of the very things that disturb me about our current election process and ones that it gets into office. Recently I wrote a post about changes to our election process that I thought might help get the focus of our leaders and turn our government back into one for the people. The article at Salon brought me to a sad realization, that it’s not just me, I’m not the only one that feels this way. There’s a pretty good reason why many people feel this way, it’s because there’s possibly some truth to it.
As I’ve said before, these days, running a campaign for office is expensive and the money has to come from somewhere. Unfortunately, this money is easier to get access to from large lobbyists (unions, religious organizations, large corporations). How can this not make politicians vote in support of these lobbies’ values? Let me put it this way, would you go to work for another company while your current employer continued to pay your salary? Of course not, you’d end up being fired. I’m not talking about two separate jobs, I mean you get paid by Company A while you’re doing Company B’s work. These politicians are working for someone, but it isn’t us.
Go back over the last few years of bills/legislation/laws that Congress has been doing. Now, I’m in no way attacking one side or the other here, the problem is that this is a system wide problem, not just a single party’s problem. Let’s take the healthcare reform as an example, and we’re not calling it Obamacare damn it, that is such a stupid name. At one point the bill included a statute that would require a lot of uninsured people to obtain insurance. (This is just one example out of many in regards to healthcare reform) It also included a portion that would allow pharmaceutical companies to continue to charge high prices on new prescription drugs. The politicians that were supporting that particular version of the bill were being promised large contributions from some of the largest pharmaceutical and health insurance providers in the nation. This is just one of many examples, not just with healthcare reform, but numerous bills throughout the past.
And while we’re on the subject of healthcare reform, let me ask you a question. How did you benefit from the recent healthcare reform that was passed. Did your premiums go down? Did your co-pays drop? Mine certainly didn’t, in fact, they went up. Sure, you can’t be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions. Lifetime maximums were removed on certain benefits. Children can be on your coverage until the age of 26. Insurance companies are required to spend 85% in some cases of premiums on actual healthcare, but there are ways for them to fudge the numbers. These are just a few of the really great things that came about from reform. However, these changes only force insurance companies to raise prices to offset them. At the end of the day reform made healthcare better for us, but it didn’t make it more affordable. Couple that with the fact that you can no longer use an FSA/HSA on non-prescribed over-the-counter drugs and healthcare supplies and uninsured citizens (in 2014) being charged a penalty for not securing insurance (something they might be doing because they can’t afford it), and all of a sudden those benefits don’t seem to be all that great. Keep in mind, over the next couple of years, even more regulations will go in effect, some good, some bad. How these regulations affect us won’t be realized until this happens.
It’s clear to me at this point that the American people are no longer in the government’s best interest. It’s all about taxing the people, then spending that tax money in ways that will benefit the lobbyists. This is no different from an employee at a normal job that works to benefit the ones that sign their paycheck.
Unfortunately, changing the rules for getting elected and the election process wouldn’t be enough. We also need to get smarter about how we vote. Research the candidates before you vote, turn off Fox/CNN/MSNBC, they’re biased and aren’t going to give you the truthful information you deserve. Get on the internet, go the library, read different newspapers and stop being lazy about voting. The more sources of information you can find for a particular candidate, the better idea you’re going to have of their views. Sure, there’ll be misinformation, as there is with any information outlet, but it’s your job to see through it. I’m guilty of being lazy at one point or another when it comes to voting, but I’m trying to change my ways. “This guy is Republican/Democrat so he must be the best candidate” is not the best way to go about voting. Let’s take this voting privilege seriously. Ignore the party affiliations and vote for the candidate’s values and beliefs. A candidate can still lie about his or her intentions, not much we can do about that, but in time some changes may occur where they see that honesty is a better policy.
Perhaps, if we make some changes, we can finally have some officials in office that will represent the American people as they should.