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Longboat Key Wednesday, Mar. 7, 2012 5 years ago

My View: U.S. elections guarantee short-sightedness

by: Ian Spofforth

As a seasonal visitor to Longboat Key from Europe, I naturally take an interest in the politics and economy of the United States.

One of the surprising aspects of American politics is that the elected president with powers to initiate reforms by a popular mandate can have these powers negated by the lack of a majority in the Congress and/or Senate. I can think of no other democratic country where this happens.

In most instances, a party is elected to power and that party leader takes over the reins of power with the support of an elected majority in the legislature. That leader can fall and be replaced by his party if he loses their support but otherwise holds office for a maximum fixed term.

Here it seems the leader of the free world can be elected on a popular platform but have no powers to carry his policies through. Even if he did, nothing radical can be achieved because the love of constant elections over his fixed term deters any decisive action.

No sooner has the new incumbent got his feet under the desk than mid-term electioneering begins. Elected delegates do not want to lose their (expensively) won seats by upsetting voters with anything decisive. No president has any opportunity to push forward his policies for which he had an electoral mandate.

Short-termism is the order of the day in finance, economics and foreign policy.

This basically un-democratic system needs to be reformed. Why not let the representatives and senators of any party choose their leader? They should be able to judge the candidates better than the public. Then limit the pre-election campaigning periods to six weeks. And cap the expenditure allowed on electioneering so that the biggest purse does not buy the victor, with all the implications of corruption that goes with that.

Think what could be done in the economy with those funds which are now going into the coffers of the media industry.

I’m not saying the rest of the world knows better, but perhaps a different “spin “is worthwhile.

Ian Spofforth is a part-time resident of Longboat Key and England.

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