Lack of choice is most disconcerting

Published 10:48 am Thursday, November 13, 2014

The 2014 off-year election is over. We have seen a dramatic shift from a Congress with a majority of Democratic Farm Labor representatives to a majority of Grand Old Party representatives.

It is my fear that the American people have been relegated to the back seat of a car that holds two political parties in the front seat. There seems to be little regard for the passengers in the back and only concern about the steering wheel. Now that the GOP has won the majority position, a faction within that larger body claims that now is not the time for compromise but is the time for confrontation. The Tea Party seems to be willing to shut down the government, in effect holding the population at large hostage to their ideals.

An article in the Sunday edition of the Minneapolis Star Tribune mentioned a lack of up to 400 people to run for election throughout the state. I can’t help but wonder about the causes of that lack. Some things that come to mind are:

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The financial means needed to run for office. I know that this varies according to the type of office. The outside funds that came into Minnesota this year for elections from the governor down to local school boards exemplify the extent that funding plays in elections. Solution? Set spending limits based on the office. Disallow outside funds.

The length and type of campaigns that are conducted. Few campaign issues are debated.  Instead we see vilifying of people rather than discussion of positions. We will see 2016 campaigns starting soon. Solution? Shorten the time allowed for campaigning. Allow only issue oriented campaign debates and mailings. Display what the candidate wishes to enact and how he/she intends to attempt that.

Allegiance to a party. This may be the most difficult to change. A voting bloc or party is inherent in any system of majority rule government. However, I believe that we have seen the transition that places party politics above the concern for the people governed. Solution? Open to discussion.

The often-told story about a frog and hot water comes to mind. If you put a frog into boiling water, it will attempt to hop out. If you put a frog in cold water and gradually heat it to a boil, it will accept the condition and ultimately die. I have not actually conducted that experiment, but I understand the concept. I fear that we, as a people, are like that. We are accepting the current dysfunction of our governmental system to continue. As long as we are willing to let party policies and politics determine our direction, we are letting the water come to a boil around us.


Paul Evenson

Albert Lea