In a Time of Universal Deceit, Telling the Truth is Revolutionary.
Sunday, March 3, 2024

We know the American political system is broke, but does anyone have any idea how to fix it?


My maternal granddaddy was a Southwestern Virginia mountain man, raised in the Blue Ridge.  The only time he ever left his beloved mountains was to fight in World War I.

He despised most elected officials, particularly Presidents, with the exception of Harry Truman.

His measure of a President was simple.  “I want a President who is someone I can sit down over a bottle of beer or a cup of coffee and talk about the affairs of the world.”

Of the Presidents of his lifetime, only Truman, in opinion, fit that bill.

Walter McPeak, my grandfather, died in 1974 — 38 years ago — and if he were alive today he would look at the crop of losers who vie for the top job in Americans politics and say something like “there ain’t a damn one I would sit down with over a beer.”

Eddie Mahe, a political consultant who taught me the ins and outs of politics, used to tell candidates that the bottom line in an election was whether or not the public felt comfortable sending them to Washington.

“If they like you, they’re gonna vote for you,” Mahe said. “If they don’t, they won’t.  It’s a simple as that.”

Mahe would sometimes use “trust” instead of like but trust is hard to come by these days when it comes to government.

Think about it.  Do you really like or trust Barack Obama or Mitt Romney?  Would you want to go our for a beer or a cup of coffee with either one?  Would you let either one date or marry your daughter?

That’s the problem.  We no longer trust political candidates or elected officials.  We accept the fact that they lie, that they break promises that they shade the truth for political expedience.

So we rationalize our choices and pick the dogs with the least fleas.

Does it have to be that way?

Not really.

Is there a better way?

There should be.

Do I know a better way?

Wish the hell I did.

I’ve spent most of my life as a journalist: 16 years in newspapers (1965-1981), nearly 18-years (1994-now) as publisher of Capitol Hill Blue and the last eight years again working for newspapers (first for Media General and now for Warren Buffet’s World Enterprises).

I spent more than a decade working inside the government and political system. I served three Congressmen and — for five years — ran what was then the largest political funding operation in town — the political programs division of The National Association of Realtors.

I taught aspiring political operatives for the American Campaign Academy, lectured on political campaigns for the Washington Center for Politics and Journalism and wrote numerous articles on what was right or wrong with the American political system.

With that background, you’d think I’d have some idea how to fix the problems of the American political system.

I don’t.

Do you?

9 thoughts on “We know the American political system is broke, but does anyone have any idea how to fix it?”

  1. You know Doug, I have been reading you for years. Sometimes we agree. Sometimes we don’t, but honest to Pete every election I look at the crop of losers and wonder is this the best we can do? I was tempted to not vote. For the first time in my life. I am now 50 years old. I have never been excited about a candidate. I have now gotten past not being excited to disgusted. How to fix it? I don’t have a clue.
    I only wish I did.
    While expressing my disgust to an Arab man, I found myself ashamed. He owns a convenience store in a small town near my second home in WV. He doesn’t like our politicians either. Says he voted Green Party last time. “You must always vote”, he said in a cautionary tone. It is our duty.
    I got the impression he worked pretty hard to earn that right. I don’t know his story, but have a feeling it is a pretty interesting one.
    So. I will vote. Now. If I can just figure out the least evil and which dog will do the least damage.

  2. Get a new public education system… better yet, go private… check back again in about 18 years.

  3. Eliminate money in politics by making all elections funded publically with no outside money period included self financing. Eliminate lobbying, period. Make the government accountable to people rather than special interests with big money. Term limits for Congress and Senate…..we don’t need career politicians.

  4. Restore our civil libertys, cut the size of our bloated government and then you will see the growth of the U.S. economy. The current group of self serving politicians belong on the bottom of the ocean.

  5. I’m voting 3rd party again. It’s a start.

    One day, when more folks decide voting is a sham, then we’ll see tax protests, followed by crackdowns, followed by violent retaliation against the system. It’s all been done before. Let history be your guide.

    We US citizens and our system aren’t exceptional. That was why we had a Constitution. Yes, HAD. It wasn’t until the Constitution was largely ignored and discarded that our problems have soared to previously unfathomable heights. Maybe we’ll return to it, but it’s doubtful. Hope for something similar or better, but it’s doubtful. We’re in for a long hard slog. It will get much worse before it gets any better.

  6. Doug, it’s a simple fix, really.

    All we need to do is round up all the politicians, all the lawyers and all the government bureaucrats, put them all on a ship and then drop them off on a desert island somewhere WITHOUT their Blackberries and I-pods. Then we entourage them all to sue each other..

    The basic problem is we have too many politicians writing too many vague and useless laws for too many bureaucrats to interpret and then too many lawyers to litigate.

    All these clowns are REALLY doing is absolutely stifling our once vibrant free enterprise system.

    In spite of what Mr. Obama says to the contrary, so much of what we call “government:” makes it virtually impossible for working people to make a decent living.

  7. “We know the American political system is broke, but does anyone have any idea how to fix it?”

    Nope! And I’m quickly approaching the age where I just don’t give a damn anymore. Let future generations try and fix it, I give up!

  8. Steps
    1. Admit that Democracy is a failed system
    2. Construct a National Super Computer
    3. Program it for a Eudaimoniac society
    4. Proscribe Politics or Human Meddling henceforth
    5. Abide by its direction

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