I am not a New Year’s Resolution person. It isn’t that I am not goal-oriented (I am) or that I don’t like the beginning of a new time, new game, new challenge (I do). Creating lofty resolutions that require dedication and will, motivated by an arbitrary deadline and thus invariably forgotten within a month, seem artificial, even forced. I am more of a “do-it-when-the-spirit-moves-me” person.
But I do think we could benefit by considering resolutions to improve American politics and government, the system and the people in it. This is hardly an exhaustive list (admittedly I am typing it as I watch the Orange Bowl in eager anticipation for this game to endddd so the Cotton Bowl can begin!), however I do think it is a solid start.
I love, love, love political debates. Seriously, using three “love”s is probably still insufficient for just how much I enjoy seeing candidates thrive or stumble, answering moderators and competitors, all while trying to look approachable but impressive, intelligent but not aloof, charismatic but still relatable. Yes, they are fun…but they are so long! Why do they run for three hours? Even the best movies can’t keep a good plot, cast, and writing going for over 180 minutes. Candidates get tired and, quite frankly, I think the audience does too. Let’s cap them at two hours and make that time really matter.
Fewer Candidates in Debates
Above I asked why debates are so long and the answer brings up another issue in and of itself. When you have so many candidates that you have two debates for a single party, clearly there are a lot of candidates. Now I am not saying there are too many candidates in the race (au contraire, I like the variety and options they provide to voters) but there are too many candidates in debates when a candidate gets no more than 25 minutes in a debate because he/she is sharing the stage with 9 other presidential hopefuls. Obviously, this is a challenge for the RNC, since the number of candidates vying for their nomination is 7x the number seeking the DNC (discounting O’Malley as a viable candidate which, though unkind, is realistic). Slimming down the number of candidates in the debates will increase the time per individual candidate and allow for more in-depth and quality responses that is critical to cultivate an educated and informed electorate.
No More Dirty Politics
So far, both the presidential race and the Indiana governor’s race seem to be relatively tame—no major mudslinging against opponents, no slick or shady negative advertising aimed to undercut the competition. Excluding Trump’s comments about Hillary, Fiorina, and Kelly (hm, notice a trend?), the campaigns have all been primarily positive and I hope we can keep it that way. Voting against candidates is perhaps the most pessimistic behavior in American politics and it isn’t healthy for our democracy. Just as I watch some of these football match-ups and wonder if it is possible for both teams to lose because I dislike both so much, thinking all candidates are terrible, all politics is bad, all votes are worthless breeds a disinterest and distrust that is already pervasive in our political culture. The beginning of the campaigns have been (generally) clean so far—let’s keep them that way.
More Diversity in Politics
What does it say that this current presidential race is the most diverse in our country’s history because there are two, yes, two women in a field of over two dozen? I am thrilled we do have two women in the race and I give them credit for all they are doing. Still, we need more diversity in our government. We need more competition in races (Q: How many state races have incumbents unchallenged in elections? A: Way too many*). *Not the actual number but an accurate reflection nonetheless. The filing deadline for Indiana races isn’t until February, hint-hint, so ALL individuals: men, women, white, African-American, Hispanic-Americans, Asian-Americans, LBGTQ, middle-class, working-class who want to impact their state, make meaningful change in their community, bring their unique perspectives to decisions, should apply.
Better Voter Turn-Out
This is something needed across the country, as our off-year election turnouts last year were dismal and many of the local races maintain their dismally low turnout numbers. The last two presidential elections enjoyed slight increases (60%); most speculate that these are temporary “highs” but I am hoping that this signals a new trajectory of an interested and more active electorate concerned with selecting the leader of their nation. Statewide elections this cycle will undoubtedly benefit/suffer from coattails of the national elections, so high turnout is even more important. Register. Learn. Vote. (See how easy I made that sound? It is only slightly more tedious in person. But really, do it).
With that, the Orange Bowl is over (Congrats Clemson) and the Cotton Bowl is beginning (RTR). Happy New Year’s and may we keep our resolutions for improvement of all!