President Obama, You Say You Want Ideas—Here’s One!

President Obama says he wants ideas.  How about this one?  The government will designate a fixed dollar amount to be deducted from each taxpayer each year.  This fund will be distributed equally to all people running for federal office.  Although it can be spent as the candidate sees fit, they will not be able to exceed that amount and will not be able to accept funds from their own bank account or those of friends or organizations.  Of course there will need to be some way to determine if a person is a qualified candidate, but that should not be an insurmountable problem.  It might be that at the local or state level, a candidate would have to have a number of valid signatures supporting their candidacy.

You may find that all kinds of people will run for office on the tax payers’ contribution—qualified but from completely opposite points of view of candidates they may have otherwise supported.  To make this work, citizens will need to agree that a level playing field is to everyone’s advantage.  It will produce many more ideas for solving the problems of their constituents and for increasing the general welfare.  It will focus voters on good ideas, not the biggest “War Chest” as it is commonly called. The position should not be for sale anyway. 

This is how our democracy was intended to work all along. Funds at the local level would be contained as well although TV stations and newspapers might be asked to donate TV time and newspapers asked to contribute column space where the candidates will be able to define their position on the issues and convince the electorate that they have the qualifications, personal work habits and ethical standards needed to represent their interests at the national level. Right off the bat, I can think of seven benefits for why this approach to government appointment would benefit us all.  Maybe you can think of others to add to my list.

  1. The campaign will be about ideas and solutions for problems facing the constituents.
  2. It will not be about wealth—anybody’s.  “Joe the plumber” will not have to worry about financing a campaign.  This will generate a broader representation of candidates from all walks of life, to include education, occupation and life’s experiences.  The career politician will be on shaky ground. Financial influence will be eliminated from decision making.  Those who are wealthy or in positions of influence will have no more influence than the power of their ideas.  It eliminates PACs and all of the problems associated with them.
  3. There will be no debts owed to any individual, group of individuals, companies or other organizations.  The benefits of this for improved decision-making are obvious.
  4. Lobbying will be reduced and what is done will be on the merit of an idea, not on influence.
  5.  The cost of the campaign will be reduced.  When the funds run out campaigning is over.  Spending billions of dollars on a presidential campaign will be a thing of the past.
  6. The length of the campaigns and the endless TV and newspaper commercials will be shortened to everyone’s approval.
  7. It eliminates “War Chests.”  There will be no carry forward of funds not spent which eliminates a current advantage of incumbents.

If only it worked this way. Here’s hoping for a positive change to the future of our election process by changing the role of PACs and other influence peddlers and reinstating the central role of the electorate. I am open to your ideas and comments—pro and con.  It is time we change the way business is done in Washington.  


Posted by Aubrey Daniels, Ph.D.

Aubrey is a thought leader and expert on management, leadership, safety and workplace issues. For the past 40 years, he has been dedicated to helping people and organizations apply the laws of human behavior to optimize performance.