By Tom DeWeese
May 30, 2008
Hillary Clinton. John McCain. Barack Obama. Those are our choices for the next president of the United States. Are you happy with that selection? If not, what is your alternative? As the saying goes, “The lesser of two evils is still evil.”
Beyond the presidential race we have congressional candidates, governors, state legislators, county commissioners, mayors, and city council candidates. Are you happy with whom the parties have chosen to offer for election? If not, what’s your alternative?
The real issues of the day are not even being addressed in the campaigns. The falling dollar that will render our money worthless; the rising gas prices that grab the last of our worthless money; the invasion of illegal aliens that are changing our society; the globalization of our economy; assaults on our private property; the loss of American jobs to foreign countries; and now the threat of food shortages.
These are real problems facing every American, yet it is apparently politically incorrect to discuss them. There are no questions concerning these issues during debates, on Sunday morning political talk shows, or anywhere in the news media in relationship to the candidates. It’s not there. Not to be discussed. The powers in charge are picking the issues – no matter how frustrated the electorate is.
Is it any wonder that there are millions of Americans who don’t vote or participate in our nation’s debate because they think it doesn’t matter anyway. The “average voter” increasingly feels that the decisions have been made for them.
College students, just starting out in the world, wide eyed and ready to make a difference, end up just shrugging their shoulders at the selection of candidates and stay home.
Those who hold conservative points of view that our nation should live within the Constitution now believe socialism is inevitable, so why bother going to the polls.
And the poor think they are simply pawns in a vice grip between big money and special interests which control the elections. Why bother? Helplessness now rules the world’s greatest representative democracy. As people stay home or trudge to the polls to unenthusiastically vote to the next lesser of two evils, 93% of incumbents are routinely returned to office – year after year after year.
The instant a candidate is elected and joins the ranks of the incumbents he/she begins the dance. Get the money for the next campaign. How? Special interests groups, corporations and foreign interests flood into their offices to make deals, promote their personal agendas and show the way to fame, fortune and perpetual office – if only the incumbents go along. They have the whole process well in hand. Campaigns become little more than big PR projects, promoted in positive platitudes, specifically designed to assure nothing negative sticks. Just get through it and keep the gravy train running.
Above all, do not talk about controversial subjects like dollar values, global trade or immigration; just stick to issues like health care and the environment – coincidentally, two issues bought and paid for by the special interests. See how it works?
So year after year we officially hold elections and politicians pontificate about how our going to the polls is a revered right; a valued tradition; the underpinning of a free society. And they wonder why there is such division in the nation. How did we end up in such a mess? We voted for these guys. But did we enjoy it? Are we satisfied with the results? Would we like to demand a do over?
Don’t despair. Don’t give up. There is a logical, effective way out of this. But it won’t happen by depending on political parties to lead the way. We have to take things into our own hands. We need an effective, binding form of protest to say NO to bad candidates. There is such a way.
Imagine going into the voting booth and looking down the list of candidates offered. None really appeal. None seem to offer satisfaction as an answer to the issues that concern you. If only there was something else you could do. A write in won’t help. It would take such a difficult, expensive effort. It rarely works.
Then you look further down the ballot. Something new. It says “NONE OF THE ABOVE.” It’s a final choice after the candidates – after the candidates in every category, from president, to congress to city council. What does it mean?
It means you have the power to decide who will hold office – not the power brokers. When the votes are tallied, if “NONE OF THE ABOVE” gets a majority of votes over any of the candidates listed, then “NONE OF THE ABOVE” wins. And that means none of those candidates will win the office. The election will have to be held again and new candidates will have to try to win the public’s support.
Fixing the election process could be that simple. You, the voter, would be completely in the driver’s seat with the power to reject candidates, forcing a new election with new choices. The political parties would be forced to provide candidates the people want — or face being rejected. They would have to talk about real issues – or face being rejected. Incumbents would have to answer for their actions in office – or face being rejected. “NONE OF THE ABOVE.” Period. The power of labor unions and international corporations would be broken.
Think of the consequences. No longer would voters have to settle for the lesser of two evils. If all the candidates are bad – none would be able to force their way into office. It would mean that powerful special interests could no longer rely on their money to buy elections. They could buy all the ads they wanted, spend millions on “volunteers” going door to door, and sling their dirt, but if the voters aren’t buying, none of it will save their candidate from being rejected by “NONE OF THE ABOVE.”
Moreover, the power of entrenched incumbents who have been unbeatable because of their massive war chests and party ties would be broken. Picture Ted Kennedy unable to run for office because he was rejected by “NONE OF THE ABOVE.”
However, in order to work, “NONE OF THE ABOVE” would have to be binding. It would have to have the power of law behind it. It cannot be just a “protest” vote that has no other meaning.
“NONE OF THE ABOVE” is completely non-partisan. There is no way to control its outcome. There is no need for a massive campaign chest to support “NONE OF THE ABOVE,” although it could certainly be done. But the option, once permanently placed on the ballot, would always be there. America’s representative system would be restored.
To get the job done, activists in every state would have to begin a campaign to demand that “NONE OF THE ABOVE” be given a permanent spot on the ballot. It would have to be done state by state. Some states have ballot referendums and initiatives using petition drives to get an issue on the ballot so the people can decide. It’s difficult and expensive to do, but popular ideas have a chance.
In other states, “NONE OF THE ABOVE” advocates would have to find a friendly state representative or senator to introduce the idea before the state legislature and then get enough votes to pass it in both houses and then signed by the governor. And if the effort is successful then every one of those legislators is an incumbent who will have to face “NONE OF THE ABOVE” or the ballot for their re-election. They probably won’t be too excited about the idea.
Of course, one of their main objections to the “NONE OF THE ABOVE” idea would be the requirement for holding a new election should it win. Too expensive, our responsible public servants would say as they dismissed the idea. The fact is, such a need would probably not arise often once political power brokers began to understand that they must offer candidates acceptable to the people rather than to the special interests. That’s all they really have to do. It’s all we want.
The fact is, the idea of “NONE OF THE ABOVE” has been around for a long time. Over the years, most states have had some kind of legislation introduced supporting the concept. Nevada actually has it on the ballot – but it is not binding. It doesn’t force a new election. It is just a measure of protest. That’s not good enough to make it effective.
One of the reasons it has not been successful is because there has never been a serious national drive to promote the idea. However, with the growing dissatisfaction voters are feeling with the quality of candidates running for public office, particularly in the presidential campaign, perhaps there has never been a better time to start a national discussion on the issue.
The best part is that “NONE OF THE ABOVE” isn’t a conservative or liberal idea. It’s not a Republican of Democrat proposal. In fact, Republican leadership might see it as a good way to break the back of big labor’s influence over elections. Equally, Democrats could see it as a way to stop the power and influence of the Republican’s big business money. However they want to look at it, the bottom line is that the voters win.
So as we sigh and moan over the choices of Obama, Hillary and McCain, let’s start the debate and as Larry the Cable Guy says, “let’s get ‘er done.” Perhaps by the next election cycle we won’t have to take it anymore!
© 2008 Tom DeWeese – All Rights Reserved
Sign Up For Free E-Mail Alerts
E-Mails are used strictly for NWVs alerts, not for sale
Tom DeWeese is president of the American Policy Center and Editor of The DeWeese Report , 70 Main Street, Suite 23, Warrenton Virginia.