Monday, December 11, 2006

Fixing Politics One Issue at a Time

For some reason, a thought about politics just flashed through my weary Monday evening brain. I can't say I've thought this one out a whole lot... more of a fleeting idea, if anything, but perhaps it has some merit. Take a gander...

So I'm thinking about politics in this country. And I'm thinking about how everything else operates in the "real world," because the political life certainly is far from what most people would consider real or normal. The two, for some reason, have gotten so far apart from the original beginnings that perhaps we need to take a look at how this system operates.

Back when this great country of America was started, there were probably a grand total of about five pressing issues, judging based on what was written in the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and Bill of Rights. The main topics were roughly: Giving people rights while having fair representation in government; defending the country from Indians and foreign countries; slavery; taxes; and crime. Granted, there were probably more, but these were the core issues, and collectively these issues could be handled pretty well by elected officials.

Fast forward now to the present day. Think about the vast number of issues on the table at any given time: the current Iraq War (or, more generally, foreign relations); the environment; the economy; taxes; disease control; social security; crime; local interests; abortion; education... the list goes on, and indeed even these main topics each have dozens of sub-topics that are pretty in-depth.

So here's the question I ask: How can any given elected official possibly be able to follow each and every issue and subsequently vote intelligently on such a wide array of bills? Before answering that question, let's take a look at a typical NFL football team for a moment. It has a head coach, an offensive coach, a defensive coach, a special teams coach, a QB coach, an offensive line coach, a.... well you get the idea! Each coach has a specialty and does his best to nail down his particular area of expertise in order to improve the team as a whole.

Another example: If you go to a big-time law firm, you'll find lawyers practicing dozens of different areas of law. Need an environmental attorney? Fifth floor. Need criminal defense? Tenth floor. Looking for a tax lawyer? Eighth floor. Again, you get the idea.

Lastly, think about a major company like Pfizer. There are probably dozens of departments divided throughout the organization, each having a specific job, perhaps focusing solely on specific product lines out of their vast array of products. Everybody's got their defined job, and they do it to the best of their abilities.

Why, then, don't we elect officials to cover specific issues, or a limited umbrella of issues? Specialization has become the name of the game these days. Except in the wild world of politics, where a politician is expected to vote effectively on a frighteningly wide array of issues. I would think that if we had to vote elected officials based on their stance on specific issues, this country would be a lot more efficiently run and the whole "liberal" vs. "conservative" stereotypes and mental blocks would be a thing of the past.

That's all I got for this Monday. Now back to the real world.

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