Welcome to part 3 of a 12 part series where I can share with you, at a slightly deeper level, what we envision our state and country can look like through our work with Represent Us!

In case you are joining us for the first time here’s what we’ve covered so far in our series:

1. Vision:

“good candidates –> good governance –> good society”

2. Message:

“Country over Party”
“People over Politics”
“Common-sense people campaigning for common-sense politics.”

3. Mission:

“Fix the System”

4. Strategy:

FIX” the system by getting out the “VOTE

5. The “F” in FIX stands for “Fight corruption via the Anti-Corruption Act”

6. The “I” in FIX stands for “Incentivize collaboration amongst our politicians”

7. The “X” in FIX stands for “X-ecute our Fulcrum strategy”

8. The “V” in VOTE stands for “Vocalize our message”

9. The “O” in VOTE stands for “Obtain political leverage”

10. The “T” in VOTE stands for “Triangulate our politicians”

11.  The “E” in Vote stands for “Enact enduring, model legislation”

12.  The end of our series is just the beginning!

“Country over Party”
“Common-sense people campaigning for common-sense politics.”

This week we want to talk about the mission of Represent Us. If vision is what we want to SEE happen then mission is what we want to DO to realize our vision. What we want (need!) to do is:

“Fix the System”

You see, our political system is very corrupted and broken right now. Don’t take my word for it – look at these stats from various polls:

Sources:
Graphic 1: https://news.gallup.com/poll/1675/most-important-problem.aspx
Graphic 2: https://news.gallup.com/poll/236243/military-small-business-police-stir-confidence.aspx
Graphic 3: https://www.opensecrets.org/overview/reelect.php

There are 3 key contributors to why our political system is so broken:

A. Money
B. Monopolies
C. Media

Money
Un-bridled money corrupts the system in many ways. Note that money isn’t bad in and of itself – it’s just that political action committees (PACs) can receive unlimited funding from special interests (like unions, corporations, billionaires, etc.) which effectively drowns out the spending an average person can contribute. Plus, that money can be “dark” meaning the source doesn’t have to be disclosed. (You’ll have no idea who is bad-mouthing you in a last minute smear ad if you are running for office!).

Money is also a huge factor in the problem of the “revolving door” – where legislators leave office (potentially after having had a hand in legislation favorable to particular special interests) and then shortly afterwards land lucrative jobs at said special interests.

Finally, the focus on money is not just during campaign time, it can eat in to governance time as well. (Check out this shocking CBS News report which details how legislators can be forced to spend up to 40% of their time dialing for dollars!). At some point we should really revisit what is currently the law of the land as enshrined in the infamous 2010 Citizens United ruling and ask:

“is money really speech and are corporations really people?”
OR
“Even if money is speech shouldn’t it be subject to reasonable limits so that it won’t trample the rights of others?”

Monopolies
Our political system today is almost a monopoly power. To be more precise it is actually a duopoly where the only games in town are Republicans and Democrats – there are no other viable choices. Monopolies, in the world of business, are illegal, for one big reason – they shut down the heart of what makes our economic system flourish: fair competition.

With our two parties operating as a duopoly you get very predictable behavior that is akin to a duopoly in the marketplace:

No more innovation – just self-preservation / contentment w/ status quo
No new entrants (3rd parties / independents have no chance)
Ping-pong politics – just undo what the other party did as opposed to creating value with new ideas
Focus solely on your base and not on attracting customers (voters!) that might be in-between the extremes of the two parties (because it’s a binary world, after all, so how could there possibly be any customers in the middle?)

There’s no incentive for teamwork, no reason to compromise and no bias for action. Does that sound familiar to our current situation?

Media
Actually, it’s media discernment that is the heart of the problem. An eternity ago we only had 3 choices for network news (ABC, CBS and NBC). We knew who we could trust. Now, with our media consisting of multiple channels, blogs, podcasts, op-ed “shows” (that look like news!) videos, social media shares, etc. we have forgotten how to discern what is truth and what are sources we can trust. We, as citizens, have forgotten how to think critically.

This inability to think critically leaves us vulnerable to confirmation bias (looking only for sources we agree with – not other viewpoints from other credible sources) and susceptible to political echo chambers where we only listen to the media from the side we like over and over again. In fact, the media that we don’t like we start to brand as “fake news” without even bothering to check the facts reported and the trustworthiness of the source. This breeds hyper-partisanship and feeds into the Monopoly / Duopoly issue mentioned previously. We’ve changed from a society that views ourselves as Americans first before we view ourselves as Republicans and Democrats. We view the “other side” not as worthy opponents who have different yet potentially-valid perspectives but as “enemies” who are “crazy” and not to be trusted at all. This lack of trust leads to lack of teamwork and flows right back into our government.

And you wonder why Congress can’t get anything done? Congress is simply a reflection of us since, after all, WE are the ones who elected them!

Conclusion
These three factors contribute greatly to our broken political system. I want to emphatically state that our fight is primarily with the system itself NOT with all the people in it. There are good, common-sense people on both sides of the aisle who are as frustrated as we are with the current state of the system. We need to connect with these good, common-sense people and let them know they have our support and commitment as “common-sense people campaiging for common-sense government.”

At the beginning of my message I referenced a Gallup poll that identified the #1 facing problem facing America today being “the Government / Poor leadership.” If you study the poll further you’ll find that the next most important problems for we Americans to solve are:

  1. Immigration
  2. Unifying the country grouped with respect for one another
  3. Healthcare
  4. Racism
  5. Economy / Poverty / Hunger / Homelessness

The sad thing is that we will NOT be able focus on these next 5 issues until we address the very first one of “poor government.” And that is why our mission here at Unite America is to:

“Fix the System”

Next week we’ll begin exploring Represent Us’ strategy detailing how we will accomplish our mission.

This week’s action

We have a statewide Zoom call that we will be hosting this week on Wednesday from 8 pm to 9 pm Central time in partnership with one of our non-partisan democracy reform allies – Unite America.  During that call we will be outlining a bit more about our strategy for Wisconsin. 

If you are available and would like to join we would encourage you to sign up here at:

https://volunteer.represent.us/wi_mtg_050119

Also, next week on Thursday from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm, for those of you in Green Bay, our friends at the Millennial Action Project are sponsoring an event at the Titletown Brewing Company:

Red and Blue Dialogue:  Water Quality in Green Bay

We will be joined by Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich, State Rep David Steffen (R) and State Rep Staush Gruszynski (D)

Please check it and attend if you are interested and available!

Rich Eng