Raise your hand if you absolutely dread facing the next 12 months and the upcoming presidential election cycle.
I suppose some folks find it interesting or exciting, even. But for me, the process of electing our leaders has become entirely distasteful as, more and more, ideological passion is overwhelmed by pure partisanship, and ideas and ideals are replaced by mean-spirited innuendo and all-out negativism.
What's worse is the fact that we will be forced to endure the cat-fighting, backbiting and out-and-out untruths that drive the public process we call politics nowadays in the form of the campaign commercials that will flood the airways from now until then.
So, what are we gonna do?
A couple of months ago, I wrote a column that, in part, addressed my belief that this country is quietly dominated by a "moderate majority" of folks who would like to see things change when it comes to our political process.
As I said then, I think there is a majority of citizens who share a more moderate view of things; who see both sides of an issue and believe there is room for compromise, and who don't claim to know everything about everything.
I continue to believe that there is a moderate majority, whose political and personal views are based on what's right and fair, instead of what serves special interests or a party line.
I was a little surprised at how many people agreed with what I had to say, not because I feel I'm at all wise or insightful, but because the negative, over-partisan approach seems to work so well in the political arena.
But here we are.
Waiting for something better.
I think we're good and smart enough to make our decisions without being subjected to an endless barrage of misleading information from people who often seem more interested in bullying us or frightening us into voting their way rather than telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I think it's time for a new era of civility and frank discussion. I think there's got to be a better way to find out what our candidates and their parties truly believe in, instead of only hearing about what they're against.
So here's the beginnings of my plan. Phase one of the Sloan Simplified Selection System would allow no paid political advertising. Instead, it would require each and every candidate to spend his or her time, talent and financial resources producing a clear, comprehensive standardized document stating their beliefs, goals and solutions to the problems they see. Each candidate's platform document would be required to honestly address specific issues determined by a bipartisan panel. Candidates failing to address those issues would be barred from discussing them in speeches or face-to-face debates, nor could they criticize or otherwise comment on their opponents' stance on those issues. That document would then be made available online, in libraries and free of charge to any registered voter or school requesting one. Visitors to the online site could also choose to click and compare the different viewpoints on any given issue.
I'd like to see the media saddled with the same responsibilities. And, in fact, I'm pretty sure that's the way it's supposed to be. But just think, just this first phase would, if nothing else, clear the airwaves and allow us to go back to watching reality TV shows, old movies, and "Leave it to Beaver" reruns, as is our God-given right.
And it would give us the right--and clear ability--to think for ourselves.