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June 13, 2007
Last time, voters were asked to decide which of the candidates they'd
rather sit and have a beer with. That's a good question if you're
trying to decide whom to invite to your bachelor party, but it's not
particularly relevant to the question of who should become president of the United States. Maybe we could widen our search parameters next time.

Now it's more than a year before the next election, and already candidates are have been out on the trail for months. Some of them are United States senators, who presumably have work to do back at the Capitol. Many elected representatives, including some who've stepped down and can speak much more freely about their experience, report that the job of money-raising for reelection occupies far too much of every day. Very quickly, it seems, an elected official finds that his or her primary job becomes just staying in office, and whatever it is we elected them for comes in a distant second in importance.

These people have to find us a way through a terrible war. They must do something about the widening gap between the rich and the poor -- some of them could start by acknowledging that one exists. They will necessarily be involved with our response to climate change. They must find a way to make health care available to more people. They must come to terms with the fact and the future of immigration into this country. They have more than enough to keep them busy. They need to be undistracted if they are to have a hope of doing what they must do.

We don't elect people to public office in order to further their careers or to provide a stepping stone to some other office. Important legislation isn't about anybody's "legacy" or political base. Political leaders are in bondage to our bloated electoral process, and good people can become terribly compromised and almost useless as leaders as a result.

Is there a way to rein it in? Shorten the election season, as is done in the UK, so that the whole of an elected leader's political life doesn't become a campaign? Is there a way to quit feeding the beast and shrink it down to a manageable size, so that these people with such huge responsibilities can begin to focus and actually measure up to some of them?
Copyright © 2022 Barbara Crafton
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