Money controls the government. Cash is considered free speech, so those with money have more of a voice than the average thrift store shopper. Anyone running for office in the United States needs two things: money and a hunger for power. Neither of these are good leadership qualities. You can see the problems the rich and power hungry are causing in Washington DC. You can see these problems by looking out your window. The all-mighty dollar trumps citizen's health and the environment in importance. There's got to be a better way.
The Solution: PhD in Public Service
For every other high-paying specialized job, a certain level of education is required. Lawyers have to complete seven or eight years of higher education. It's even more for medical doctors. Yet, to make decisions for your city, state, or even the entire country; there are no education requirements. The only requirements seem to be, as stated above, money and a hunger for power (and perhaps attaining a specific age and citizenship.)
I propose we hold lawmakers to the same standards we expect from those who interpret the laws. We need Schools of Public Service.
How It Works: The First Draft of an Idea
Like with other degrees, the amount of schooling required should correlate with the level of the political office sought. In other words, a city/county elected position would require a Bachelor's Degree in Public Service. Positions within the state government might require a Master's Degree. And, to work in Washington DC, nothing less than a Public Service PhD will do.
The courses of study will be like Civics/Government classes on steroids. Typical liberal arts courses will also be required, but they will have a focus on public service. Some preliminary thoughts on class requirements:
- Hard science courses: including reading and interpreting peer-reviewed journal articles
- US Foreign Policy
- Bill Crafting
- Interacting with and Understanding Constituents
- Theory of Law
- Conflict Resolution
- Warfare and Killing
- Required volunteer hours
- Service project
Problems with the Solution
The above is all well and good, but how do we keep politicians out of the pockets of corporations and other wealthy donors?
The simple solution is to outlaw it. Campaign contributions will be split evenly from public funding.
But, what about the two-party system?
Outlaw it. I believe we should outlaw any third-party-funded (this includes political parties, corporations, and individuals) campaigning for specific candidates. Candidates need to stand on their own and not with the Rs or Ds following their names.
But, aren't a lot of politicians given cushy executive jobs as a reward for their service to various businesses while in office?
Outlaw it. Once a politician has served, he may not hold a position in a company that directly benefited from his time in office.
But, doesn't this rule out the common man, the Joe Nobody from running for office?
Yes, but that's no different from what we currently have. Instead of valuing money and power, the new politicians will presumably value serving their constituents.
This still doesn't change the education level of the average voter. Aren't voters still going to make poor decisions?
Yes. I have a lot of possible solutions for this, but it is beyond the scope of this article. I will be sure to write about this soon enough.
What Other Problems Do You See with the Above?
Don't like my solution? Think it's unrealistic? Please let me know what you think would improve upon it in the comments below.
Today's post is brought to you by Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States," which should be required reading for all politicians: