Monday, November 08, 2010

Ten easy rules

Want my vote in an election? Try to come close to these standards:

1. Figure out what you have to do, do it, and pay for it. Nothing more, and nothing less. In other words, don't pay for today's problems by borrowing against tomorrow.

Note: National emergencies, such as war and the possible collapse of our economic system, qualify as exceptions. But getting re-elected is not such an emergency … so if you want to pass tax cuts to be personally popular among voters, figure out how to keep the budget balanced first.

2. I want representatives who are smart, and who use their informed judgment. In other words, do what is right and not just popular. Sometimes it's even the same thing.

3. Voting to raise taxes on a particular issue should not equal political death. Inflation raises the price of everything, and it's unrealistic to think prices for government are any different. But, as rule number one says, you'd better be spending those extra dollars efficiently. My prices are going up too.

4. If you are going to send me literature during the course of your term, make it something of interest rather than self-serving political propaganda that goes straight into the recycling bin. And since I have no idea what "something of interest" might be, maybe not spending the money at all is a good idea.

5. Stop giving tax breaks to every company that comes along hat in hand. Set fair rates, and don't get into bidding wars with other municipalities for companies. Such moves only make it tougher for companies who don't have such tax breaks to compete. Besides, no one looks at those handouts that have you pictured breaking ground for a new business because of the huge tax break you might have slightly pushed along in the legislative process.

6. Talk to the media during the campaign, and take questions. We want to know more about you than what your campaign ads say. And Republicans, just going on Sean Hannity or the local equivalent doesn't come close to counting.

7. Stop the misleading and negative ads. We're all sick of them. We don't want to look at a smiling color photo of you and a scowling black-and-white picture of the other person, or be told to call the other guy's office to explain his or her behavior.

Talk about yourself, and point out the legitimate differences on issues between you and your opponent. Get out of the world where if you want slightly cut a proposed increase in school lunches, you want kids to starve; and if you want to buy better equipment for police and fire companies, you are pro-tax hikes.

8. Don't have your robocallers dial before 10 a.m. and after 9 p.m. My family gets grumpy when someone wakes it up. And don't do "push polls," where the "pollster" asks loaded questions like, "If you knew candidate John Doe was a Dolphins fan, would it make you more or less likely to vote for him?"

9. If you don't like what the other side is doing, do something about it. Make some proposals, and work to create compromise. Sitting back and saying "no, no, no" to everything is not a governing strategy; it's a way to make yourself look petty and stupid.

10. Finally, show a little respect for the process and the people in it. In theory, everyone is trying to make this a better place to live; they just disagree on the methods. Think of the members of the other party as opponents, not enemies. In the real world, Democrats and Republicans interact all the time, and get along nicely. Maybe there's a lesson to be learned there. (Thank you, Jon Stewart.)

Now, get to work. The next election will be here before we know it, and I'll be watching.

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