Okay, admit it…just like me, you feel like our American political system is broken. Major issues face our country and our planet while our Congress and President can’t seem to make any headway on solving the problems. For a while now, our two major political parties have been polarized to the degree that it’s extremely difficult to get any bipartisan support on any legislation. Yet during this 2016 election, things have even taken a turn for the worse.

Our Presidential election has turned into some kind of sideshow – a nightmarish reality TV series. Mainstream media feeds us personality politics rather than focusing on critical policy differences. We hear about sexual talk and unwanted sexual advances, leaked emails and differences between public and private statements, who said what outlandish statement, who’s to blame for some infraction. We hear about who’s calling who names, who did something in the past that others say is a criminal offense, who is supporting whom. It’s great theater. It’s lousy politics. What can we do?

Just today, I received an email from my Colorado Congressman Ed Perlmutter with the title “three ways to make politics better”. Very timely, Ed. Here were his suggestions:

1. Overturn Citizens United. Ever since this Supreme Court decision, campaigns and elections have been overrun by corporate interests. It is time we clean up the system. I support a Constitutional Amendment empowering the Congress to regulate and set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections.

2. No more “Dark Money”. Voters should have the right to know who is behind super-PAC advertising the same way they have a right to know who is giving money to candidates.

3. Restore the Voting Rights Act. More than a dozen states have enacted voter restrictions, disproportionately affecting minority, youth and older voters. We should make voting convenient and easy for all citizens to cast a ballot. 

That’s a good start. I agree with all of this. However, his list reminded me to think about the goals of the Coffee Party USA with whom I am affiliated. Here is a link to their goals which include Perlmutter’s…..but go much further in solving our political shortcomings.

No matter where you are on the political spectrum, I would think you would agree that something has to change in our system. We have so many issues that are real and vitally important that we must face. These include the following:

  • Climate change
  • Wall Street corruption
  • Income inequality
  • Immigration reform needs
  • Prison/judicial system that has over incarcerated black men
  • Need for access to affordable health care for all
  • Problems with our school system
  • Terrorism and endless war
  • Racial divisiveness
  • ….you could no doubt add other challenges to this list….

But the critical factor is this…..as long as our system is not working, we will not solve these pressing problems. Soon this election will be behind us (thank God) and we can hopefully move forward. But will we have a political system and a government that can address real issues?

There’s an old saying that the people get the government that they deserve…..the point being that as long as we stay disengaged from the process and let others “handle it”, we will get leaders who will not be able to effectuate real and positive change.

So how can we improve politics?

Yes, it’s meeting the goals listed above….the reforms of our system that reduce the impact of money on politics and give the power back to the people…..but it is also a shift in our consciousness around what we want. Here are some of the shifts we need to experience:

A shift from a focus on personality to a focus on issues and solutions.

A shift from obstructing solutions that don’t give us 100% of what we want to win-win solutions that address the needs of all.

A shift from the demonization of anyone who is not like us in political beliefs to a sense of respect for everyone no matter what they believe.

A shift from a lack of care and concern about this world we live it to a revitalization of the sense of the sacredness of this beautiful planet.

Yes, we need to make these shifts in our consciousness and then back it up with action!

What do you think is needed?

Won’t you get engaged in the area you are called to make a difference?

Won’t you join me in helping make this shift?

Mark Gilbert

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