In Search of a Milk-Free Political Diet

by James E. Copple

In the last election cycle, candidates and their campaigns spent approximately $8 billion to secure their offices. Most of that $8 billion came from citizens like you and me.

During the last campaign, candidates, their surrogates, their parties, their PACs inundated us with funding requests to support their efforts to secure their offices. The reality remains – Congress has a 9% approval rating but yet we returned to office 85% of those seeking office. We generally believe it is the other’s person’s candidate that is causing the log-jam or failing to cooperate. It is time we boycott the campaign financing of candidates who fail to bring to their positions servant leadership and statesmanship.

Jesse Unruh, Speaker of the California Assembly (1966) is credited for having said “Money is the mother’s milk of politics.”  It is time we put our congressional leaders and our president on a milk-free diet – they are now on notice – NO MORE MONEY! What if all Americans stopped making campaign contributions to those seeking congressional offices and to the President until they begin acting like responsible adults and make a commitment to exercise their duties with a spirit of service, cooperation, and civility. The current political rancor and bipartisan bickering might STOP.  If we cut the cash and cut them off from the one thing they seem to value most – perhaps they will become service leaders.

Imagine a JUST SAY NO campaign!  NO MORE MONEY!  No more $3.00 contributions, no more $197 contributions, no more response to urgent appeals by phone, by email, by direct mail, by commercial – no more contributions until they can show they are leaders that put Americans first.

What if we weaned them from the mother’s milk that sustains them until they signed the following pledge:

I pledge to restore civility and statesmanship to the work of my office and to earn the trust of the American people by bringing integrity, transparency, and commitment to my public service. I will seek bipartisan solutions to the complex issues that face our country. I pledge to create a climate of service in my efforts to promote the interests of the American people in a global community.

Indicators of success and evidence of changed behavior would include the following:

  1. Pass a budget without a continuing resolution.
  2. Hold hearings on all nominations made by the sitting President.
  3. Avoid personal attack advertising in characterizing the work and positions of an opposing candidate.
  4. Hold monthly bipartisan leadership meetings to problem solve legislative log-jams.
  5. The President will hold monthly bipartisan leadership meetings with members of Congress.
  6. The President will hold monthly press conferences.
  7. Members of Congress will be transparent and will post on their websites weekly timesheets that record meetings and the names of corporations, associations, or lobbyists that have met with the member in the past week.
  8. Avoid block voting by strict party affiliation – encourage members to vote their conscience with impunity from leadership.

Restore civility in discourse and debate to demonstrate respect and appreciation of colleagues in public service.

I think they might listen – if we starve them from the money that continues to grow the beast. At least, it might be worth a try.

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