Politics as usual (unfortunately)

(Edit: Fixed a minor html problem in the third paragraph.)

Being in Berkeley, you’ll find a lot of the most of politically charged people in the United States from both ends of the political spectrum.  It’s great to find such passionate people who fight for their ideals, protesting, marching, and campaigning for their side.  With this being a Presidential election year, it’s fair to say that you’ll be hearing a lot more from both wings of the political system.

However, there’s a part of the campus that remains turned off by politics.  You can hear a set of common excuses like “It doesn’t affect me,” “They don’t know what they’re doing,” and “My vote doesn’t count for anything.”  The first one may seem a bit of a tricky one to crack, but really though, when bringing up a set of relevant issues, it becomes easy to see that you can be affected by public policy.  The other two, however, are considerably more difficult to address.  Politicians do know a lot about what they advocate for, but sometimes those policies may not be the right ones to take.  As seen in this Time magazine article, neither Bush nor Kerry have a plan to solve the nations problems that economists can agree with (though it’s clear the economists don’t have all the solutions either).  The voting system, by which we select who will represent us, is also problematic.  As evidenced by the close election of 2000, one vote sure didn’t make a difference, but think about getting everyone who said that and well maybe things would different.  But there are other problems with voting.  The machines, both punch card and electronic, lose track of votes.  We can’t honestly vote for a third-party candidate without throwing our vote away a good amount of the time.  Finally, there’s the electoral college, the archaic system by which we prevent popular vote from taking over.  These problems are considerably harder to resolve.

So is there any real solution to incompetent politicians and voting procedures?  This month’s issue of Wired covers the world of politics and has a quite a few ideas.  To solve some of the problems with politicians who may or may not do their intended jobs, getting them do what the Howard Dean machine did with the Internet may provide some trust to the common man.  The Internet allows for interaction with the candidate and the people he/she is trying to reach, whether it be blogging, social networking, whatever.  It can also serve as an archive for those crazy campaign promises and a way to mobilize just in case they don’t keep them.  What about the voting problems?  Wired also points out that technology can serve to correct a multitude of the problems with the voting system, such as using an open-source voting software.

It’s sad that those problems do occur when solutions are out there to fix them.  We as individuals can’t do this all alone though.  There should be a system where we pick trained individuals to fix all this.  Oh wait that sounds a lot like what got us into this mess isn’t it?

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