The State of the State

I’m thinking of starting a new business. My idea is to set up a board equally divided by members of two different philosophies. The board members know that they are almost certainly going to be on the board for several years and will be paid very well. There also will be no barriers to them working for other organizations or receiving input and money from any sources.

What do you think?

Personally, I think this is no way to run a lemonade stand let alone a business, let alone a state, let alone a country. The presumed checks and balances of such a system lead to a lot of checks for the incumbents and keep the rest of us off balance. The currency becomes wheeling and dealing, quid pro quo, with relatively minor consideration of the important issues at hand. The political social network and bargaining mindset communication is a bit like middle school but with more at stake.

How is this ever going to be resolved?

Term limits? Sure term limits would help. They would be a good start. However, as a professional politician, for example you could have two terms in the state Assembly then two terms in the State Senate, then two terms in the US House and then the US Senate. Assuming a limit of two terms of 4 years, that’s 32 years right there!

Moreover, term limits would ideally need to be matched with campaign spending limits. If not, Joe Billionaire could have his guy serve for two terms, then sponsor someone else to run for the next two terms and so on, ad infinitum.

As someone who sees the serious flaws in binary thinking, I’d like to see the demise of the two party system. It simplifies many complex national issues to absurdity and keeps people stuck in an ideological mindset that is not helpful. Still, I don’t see that demise happening soon.

I have often mused about winning the lottery and then setting up a “shadow” Senate with a group that represented the population as a whole, with three people from each state selected based on their willingness to be open-minded and accept a modest salary without perks for serving their country. I suspect that such a body would resolve many complex national issues in a considerably shorter time and with more focus than the elected government. I guess that they would work much more efficiently as a team, with less rancor. They might even make America great again.

In the midst of my despair about the way this country is run and where it is headed, I met William Herlong, a Republican candidate running for the critical post of Attorney General in South Carolina. He is competing against the Republican Alan Wilson, the incumbent, in an election on June

Mr. Herlong, an extremely accomplished and experienced lawyer, doesn’t need the money, nor does he want a political career. His motivation stems entirely from his desire to tackle what he sees as major corruption in SC politics; corruption that is apparently going unchecked in Columbia.

William Herlong believes in term limits and if elected will limit himself to two terms. That will help him focus on the job at hand, rather than worrying about a political career. As Herlong himself says, as soon as you are intent on establishing a political career your current political office is already compromised, sacrificed on the altar of personal gain and career longevity.

In Herlong, I see an antidote to the development and growth of the swamp. Don’t elect career politicians. Elect people who are pursuing the job for the right reasons; the service of the people, not their own egos. Experience as an elected official is not a positive characteristic in my view.

The Attorney General position is very powerful, perhaps even more powerful than the Governor’s role. The AG is the enforcer and without an efficient and moral enforcer, the swamp just gets bigger, no matter how popular the Governor may be.

Now I understand the culture in which we live. It’s egocentric and a detriment to collaboration, open-mindedness and wisdom. You only have to look at election campaigns where candidates slander and abuse each other, to see how low we have sunk. (By the way, did you know that primates, also have their own ‘elections’ to determine the alpha male? They team up and effectively vote. There’s one difference between these primate elections and ours: theirs are more civilized.)

So as much as, or even more, than term limits and campaign spending caps, we need honest and talented people with no political aspirations to step in and do the job for the right reasons, no strings attached. We don’t need manipulative people, conspiring with others, bartering to get their way. We simply need more honest people like William Herlong. That’s the way to run a state, an organization, a lemonade stand, and yes, even a country.

 

 

One thought on “The State of the State”

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