No Matter Who Wins, Americans Lose

Why am I so sick of all the media attention to the Republican presidential primaries and all the blabbering about President Obama’s advantages and disadvantages for the coming election?  I just cannot get excited.  My answer may also be yours: No matter who wins, our nation loses.

Come election night I would be overjoyed to see Obama lose and equally overjoyed to see the Republican candidate, whoever it is, also lose.  I cannot see how either Romney or Gingrich or even Ron Paul could possibly offer what is truly needed to fix the root causes of all the dysfunction, corruption and despair with the US political and government system.  And Obama?  Nothing but slickness instead of results.

Here is a central, common deficiency: No major presidential candidate has come out with strong support for any of the constitutional amendments critically needed to truly reform our system.  More than ever, after so much failed government, a whole lot of Americans are ready to support amendments that would, for example, mandate term limits for members of Congress, remove all private money from federal elections, require a balanced federal budget, and revitalize the constitutional requirement for Congress explicitly declaring war.

With one or two billion dollars spent on campaigning for this presidential election cycle the real winners will be all the media companies and army of campaign advisors and consultants getting all that money.  With the media and pundits focusing on the election the public has been robbed of real in depth news coverage of countless issues and situations worldwide that we should be far better informed about, especially to better understand exactly what public policies we should want from the president and Congress.  The mainstream media that treats the presidential campaigns like sporting events has become as superficial as the presidential candidates.

There is only one scenario that could make me enormously interested in the presidential election outcome.  With relatively little media attention to it, few Americans know about the Americans Elect national effort that will place a presidential candidate on every state ballot.  The candidates for president and vice president will result from a lengthy process conducted on the Internet involving millions of Americans that have signed up to be part of that process.  True, those two candidates that cannot have backgrounds from the same political party, but they may turn out to be somewhat familiar to us because of their past political efforts, though neither will be the same as those on the Democratic and Republican tickets.  For a fair analysis of this innovative process read what John Heilemann has said in New York Magazine.

Considering the widespread and deserved disgust among Americans with both major parties, there is a decent chance that people like me will be strongly motivated to vote for the Americans Elect alternative ticket.  It definitely will be a vote against both major parties.  If millions of Americans make this choice, then I will be overjoyed and so should you.  Why?  Because it may be the most important historic event that could motivate actions to get us genuine reforms of our political and government system.  The Americans Elect ticket does not have to win, just show the Democrats and Republicans how much they are both being rejected.

For this scenario to occur, however, people must stop thinking about the “spoiler” fear that both major parties promote.  Democrats want people to fear that a vote for the Americans Elect ticket will cause the Republican ticket to win, and vice versa.  In truth, by voting for the Americans Elect ticket we the people have the most important electoral choice to fix our broken system.  Think of it as an electoral revolution.  The imperative is to stick with your fundamental belief that in the end it really does not matter whether the Republican or Democratic presidential candidate wins, principally because elite rich and corporate interests will still prevail.  This means that the vast majority of Americans will continue to get screwed: The top one percent will still own and control our nation under either a Republican or Democratic president.  Keep remembering that both major party candidates have lied repeatedly, will keep lying, and will never implement whatever they have promised they will do to reform the system.

My best advice to you now: Stop wasting your time on following all the nonsense about the Republican primaries and later about the main campaign from both major party candidates.  Don’t let yourself be manipulated.  Instead, sign up at Americans Elect and join the 2.4 million Americans who have already joined the process to give Americans a true alternative to both major parties.  Note that 80 percent of people have said they are ready to support an alternative presidential ticket this year.  Will they put their votes where their words are?

At some point it will become necessary to mount a national demand that the Americans Elect candidates be allowed to participate in the pre-election national televised debates and also to demand that the mainstream media give equal time and attention to them.  If we are to convert our current delusional democracy into a genuine one, then the most patriotic and courageous thing to do is to support the Americans Elect effort.

Joel S. Hirschhorn was a full professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and a senior official at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the National Governors Association; he has authored five nonfiction books, including Delusional Democracy: Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government. Read other articles by Joel.