Lots of talk on the Speakah’s reform proposals. Lots of people applauded the Governor’s reform proposals. I wasn’t one of them, because it was mostly making already-illegal things more illegal. None of those ideas are bad, but if politicians aren’t afraid to break rules now, what makes people think many pols still won’t be afraid to break them in the future? People break rules all the time, regardless of the consequences. They don’t think they’ll be caught – or caught anytime soon. Simply put, you can’t have ethics reform without reforming the electoral system and making government more transparent.
A formula for real reform, making government responsive to the people as well as more ethical:
* Stiffer penalties for laws already on the books which are commonly broken +
* Public financing option for elections +
* Other electoral reform including instant runoff & same-day registration +
* Lobbyist reform on dollars & time +
* More transparency including posting on the internet:
1. When and who all lobbyists meet
2. What bills each elected leader proposes, votes for and/or signs.
3. Public video of all floor votes and/or committee hearings (watch presently empty committee hearings suddenly become full).
This is a comprehensive view on ethics reform, because it ensures that politicians are accountable to their constituents. Just looking at ethics through the lense of law-and-order is a recipe for failure, because it’s so hard to catch politicians in the act. However, it’s not so hard for constituents to tell if an elected official isn’t adequately representing their community or is favoring special interests — citizens just don’t have the tools necessary to effectively mount challenges in all but the most extreme cases. It shouldn’t take a federal indictment to get someone out of office. That’s why ethics reform can’t come without electoral reform.
Note: I wrote this a few days ago on RyansTake.net, but wanted to get it out to a wider audience.