Pushing for Performance in Political Office

Promises, promises…to a large extent, that’s what we base our decisions on when we cast our votes for the highest positions in government. I’m frustrated by the dancing and dodging, the carefully selected words and most of all, I’m tired of not hearing enough detail to back up their claims before I cast my vote.

I spent about six months after the last major election maintaining a blog that followed my personal research into forthcoming elections and initiatives. As a career person, I allocated what I felt was a reasonable commitment to do my own research to verify what’s been published by the candidate, sponsors and media – two hours a week. Doesn’t sound like a lot, but I challenge the average ‘Joe’ to sit down to the computer and do just that. Not easy. The labyrinth of websites and resources you need to navigate through is incredible and pouring through the legalese is extremely time consuming. Bottom line – in reality, you pick your top priorities to pursue and then – let’s face it – you cast a minimally educated vote on the rest and hope for the best. I mean, how many district judges do you really know?

However, since I try to avoid complaining without bringing solutions to the table, I began to brainstorm on ideas that might bring positive and sustainable change to our government. Some suggestions are quite radical, but all are intentionally provocative. We need to stir the pot, so let thedebate begin:

1. Demand candidates to publish specifics to back up their promises. It may seem that tipping your hand right away offers too much exposure to both the competition and the critics, but we’re talking about running the government, not running a lemonade stand. It would help to expedite getting the country on the right track if we could more closely examine strategies before voting you in. So what if your competition borrows from you? So what if your ideas get critiqued or corrected along the way? I am smart enough to give credit where credit is due.

Look, I realize that all cannot be divulged. There are matters of national security and reasons for strict privacy and I’m okay with that. At the same time, the economy and jobs can’t solely be tied to foreign affairs and if it is, shame on us. It’s time to make changes that allow our country to stand on our own two feet again and stop using foreign sponsorship as a crutch.

2. Consider mixed tickets. I am really tired of them and us. It’s us, as in USA, get it?? I for one would be very open minded to a ticket with the best candidates over the best party. Yes, I am registered with a single party, but I don’t surrender my vote for the sake of the party. I vote for the best candidate, regardless, especially if I believe their strategies are cohesive and sound (see #1 above).

Consider a single term policy. I heard this on the radio, so I can’t take credit. What about having only one shot to do the job right? This would avoid the distraction straddling both sides of the fence until the next re-election. I’m okay with a single, six year term, for example. Especially if we have a better chance of examining the candidate’s strategy before voting them in (see #1 above).

4. Demand better budget behavior. I know – if you don’t spend all of the money you’ve been allocated in your budget, you risk being allocated less the following fiscal year. We need to stop hoarding and do what’s right. In a commercial enterprise, you deliver or default on the terms of the original contract. I resent half completed projects being held hostage until voters are essentially forced to approve more funding. If that happens, I want heads to roll, and I’m not just talking about token, sacrificial positions. I mean I want the people at the top to take ownership. Along that same line, I would like to have an easier way to track the spending of every tax, levy and initiative I’ve funded. If I’ve been told it takes $3 billion and three years to build a bridge, I want to be able to easily follow the money from beginning to end.

I hope this provokes some thinking out there. I just don’t think we can afford more of the same routine on the campaign trail this time around. If you object, I challenge you to post an idea of your own. Who knows? Maybe some of our ideas will actually be executed throughout the next election year.

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