I think the way to get more people involved in the democratic process is to revolutionize the way people and government interact on a daily basis. I think many people, and even many politicians, have a defeated attitude. The taxes already seem too high, and it seems there is never enough money to solve the problems that need solving, so what's the point? Whether or not you believe we belong in Iraq, we all understand the importance for a war on terror. Whether or not you agree with the Patriot Act, we all understand the importance of increasing national security. And no one can deny that something needs to be done with our health-care system. Yet, it seems no matter who is in office there will always be terrorists, our country is still vulnerable, and the health-care situation just gets worse. Why would people want to get involved when all the Democrats and Republicans do is point fingers (usually the middle one) at each other, slander each other, and still nothing gets fixed?
There are two things that we need to fix these problems: money and leadership. The leadership must NOT look "beyond party lines," but rather leadership must see itself completely SEPARATE from any party lines. That doesn't mean you have to run as an independent, but it does mean that once you are elected you need to forget about the party and only focus on being a leader.
I believe America needs to start thinking outside of the box when it comes to money. Governments have been using income taxes for tens of thousands of years. I believe the idea was actually a fairly lazy one, some king that wanted everything, and thought of peasants as little more than slaves. He felt that they shouldn't have anything, while he had everything. I recognize that this does not describe our government of today. However, I wonder if a government that is supposed to be "for the people, by the people, and of the people" can't find a better way. I think the answer is what we have already found that Americans are good at: capitalism. The government needs to actively enter the market place, and I'm not just talking sales taxes. Former Vice President Al Gore recently spoke to the Senate about the crisis our environment is in. Two things that would help our environment are electric cars and better public transportation. Right now the car companies are not willing to put an electric car on the market. I believe the government should actually enter into business of making electric cars. I believe I heard a story that both Ford and GM have closed some factories. If the government was to open factories in those towns, it would greatly help the economy. Then, the cars produced should actually be sold for a profit, and the profits made from the electric cars should go towards improving public transportation systems around the country. Another way the government could raise a lot of money without increasing taxes is through advertisements. I would imagine that large corporations would pay a lot of money to see their company logo imprinted on the back of 500,000 pennies. Or a company such as H & R Block would pay a lot to run a full page add in next years tax booklet. This money could go a long ways towards making health insuranse more affordable. Bring the Post Office back under the direction of the government, too. If you adapt a system like this, not only will you see more people voting, but you will see more people becoming actively involved in the democratic process. You will even see people thinking of solutions for problems before Washington is even aware the problem exists. Even better, they might already have a plan on how to pay for it!
I also believe the people are fed up with the corruption in Washington. I believe there is a way to fix that, too. Increase the terms of all public offices by 50% (making the president's term 6 years, for example), and then limit anyone to serve only 1 term. If they have served 1 term as a Representative, they may never run for the House again. If they want to run for Senate, that is fine, but they must wait at least 2 years before doing so. This would guarantee two things: 1) There would be no more career politicians, and those serving would know what life was like back home, and 2) Special interest groups would not be able to influence politicians by making promises to support or not support the next re-election campaign. I also find that too many politicians spend so much time campaigning that they don't do the jobs they were first elected to do. For example, will you be able to be a full time Senator for the entire presidential election? Probably not if you actually want to win. I don't fault you for that at all, but is it fair that so many politicians go absentee when campaign season starts? Limiting the time and frequency anyone can spend serving their country in Washington will definately get more people involved. More people will run for office, more people will know people running for office, and more people will feel that they can make a difference.
I know my ideas are a little more radical than some, but I believe they have merrit. I also believe that forums like this one are a great way to get others involved. Thank you, Senator, for posting this question and for listening to my ideas.