Jesse Ventura on Government Reform
Former Independent MN Governor
I get criticized for making money on weekends. I’m an entertainer and have been all my life and so occasionally I will make a few dollars entertaining on the weekends. But I wonder what my critics would say if I was traveling around every weekend raising money for my campaign chest? That would be okay, I’m sure. No thanks. I don’t take bribes. In fact I recommend it to all politicians. You sleep well. And you don’t have to go to those God-awful fundraisers, and pretend you are aware of some lobbyist’s problem that you’ve never heard of.
And you know what? Having no strings attached is so great that if I run for re-election I will promise the people of Minnesota that I will not actively raise a dime. The people of Minnesota will know my record. If they approve, they will re-elect me. If not, they won’t. Win or lose, my conscience will be clear.
We’ll bring reform to state departments and agencies, reigning in excessive rule making, clarifying overlapping roles, and bringing greater cooperation between departments to benefit all Minnesotans. We’ll introduce a variety of government systems and services reforms, including a simplified tax system and more one-stop government shopping via technology improvements. And we’ll support any effort to demystify government to make it a friend, not a foe.
In addition, existing laws pertaining to campaigns and elections need to be reviewed and amended to allow for full participation by credible third parties.
You’ll often hear politicians & lawyers talking about interpreting the Constitution in terms of “getting back to the Founding Fathers’ original intent.” But you know what? We can’t. The Constitution is such an open-ended framework that even in their time it had to be interpreted. Maybe that’s why they wrote it that way: because even back then, there was a lot of argument over the meaning of lofty principles like “free speech” and “due process.”
The Constitution is constantly being interpreted, mostly by the Supreme Court. We’re always looking to it for answers. But the truth is, it can’t answer all of our questions, it can only inform our decisions. That’s what it was really meant to do.
The taxpayers essentially funded their campaign. They didn’t fund mine. Why shouldn’t they have had to take a leave of absence if they weren’t performing the duties of their office?
I want to try and pass a law that says if you’re in public office, you’re not allowed to campaign from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. If you want to campaign, you can campaign at nights and on the weekends. This would keep incumbents from forcing taxpayers to pay them salaries for work they’re not doing.
We also need to fix the loopholes in the campaign funding system. There’s already a cap on donations to an individual candidate, but no limit to the amount you can donate to a party. This so-called soft money is then funneled to individual candidates in the form of “issue ads.” We ought to cap the amount that each candidate is allowed to spend on a given campaign.
Some people have tossed around the idea of providing all candidates with equal chunks of free air time, free print space, and free Internet access, which they could use to state their positions, hold debates, and conduct question-and-answer sessions. We just have to be careful with the term FREE. In some circumstances, FREE may not mean what it appears to. Who exactly will pay for the free air time?
The government is not a parent. We can’t expect the government to always be there, ready to bail us out. When we make decisions in life, we have to be willing to live with the consequences. We can’t expect the government to help us get back on our feet every time we make a bad decision.
We’ve gotten into the bad habit of overlegislating. I believe in the America people’s ability to govern themselves. If government would just get out of the way and allow them to lead their lives as they choose, they will succeed. Government only needs to be there to support them in their efforts.
Remember that government doesn’t earn one single dollar it spends. In order for you to get money from the government, that money must first be taken from somebody else.
On the other hand, when somebody who isn’t a career politician takes office, everybody understands that it’s temporary. They’ll serve one or two terms, then they’ll be out. They have a life and a career somewhere else. Odds are, they themselves will be affected by the legislation they pass or the programs they implement during their term. They probably sought office because they felt strongly enough about one issue or several issues to want to do something about them. That is the mind-set we want in our public servants.
I put all the city council meetings on public TV, over the good old boys’ objections. Exposure creates an educated, involved public, which isn’t in the interests of the old-boy network. The smaller the number of people involved, the more power the incumbents have.
Government protects itself from the top down--state government is reluctant to get involved in local government, and so forth. And since the good old boys are ensconced from the top down, we have to be willing to whittle away at their network from the bottom up. That’s the only way it’s possible: in tiny local victories that eventually lead to bigger victories. The only way the system will ever change is if enough well-meaning private-sector people get involved in their local government for the right reasons.
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2008 Senate retirements:
Incoming Obama Administration:
Winners of 2008 Senate Races:
( * if new to the Senate)
AK:*Begich over Stevens
DE:Biden and Kaufman
GA:Chambliss v.Martin (Dec. 2 runoff)
MN:Coleman v.Franken (recounting as of Dec.1)
NC:*Hagan over Dole
NH:*Shaheen over Sununu
OR:*Merkley over Smith
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