COMMENTARY | COLUMNISTS | GEORGE HAWKINS

Want a small, functioning government? Try yearly national elections

With all its rhetoric and promises, the 2012 election is over. Finally.

It was a long campaign, but that seems to be the case every election. With the possible exception of the political landscape in Sacramento and the clear change in the elected leadership in San Diego, not much is different. We continue to have an ideologically divided Congress that is snarled by partisan stances, a huge deficit on the national imbalance sheet, and nearly every defined benefit public employee pension program dramatically underfunded. In the meantime our freedoms continue to erode.

One side of the political establishment is licking its chops, at least at the presidential level and perhaps in Sacramento, over the results. The other side is wiping off the perspiration and trying to figure out what to do next.

Throughout the entire campaign we heard an almost constant reiteration of what the candidates called their plans and what were really lists of goals. One side had five goals and the other three. I don’t remember all five or all three even though they were repeated ad infinitum.

It comes down to this. Little has changed after several billion dollars in advertising effort, half of which was intended to obtain a different result.

That has encouraged me to develop my own plan. It covers the next 10 years.

I propose a national and local election each year until 2023. Lest you see this as a desire to overturn the results of the just concluded voting, perish the thought. I doubt the results would be much different. The voters will tune out after the first week or so, and besides, they have just decided who should be in office and that is not likely to change over the short haul.

This plan, though, would accomplish all of the goals that various candidates called their plans. It would, over the next 10 years, eliminate the deficit. It would increase the flow of cash within this country and perhaps, though it is illegal, from outside the United States into this country, rebuilding the middle class. This approach would make the United States energy-independent by allowing market forces to identify the benefits of energy development rather than government dictating to us to do the “right” thing. That is more likely to result in domestic energy expansion and more jobs than any of the “goals” in the most recent “plans.”

Finally, it would get the wealthy to put more money into the economy. The voters seem to favor that.

First, the deficit. With the need to campaign virtually all year long every year for 10 years, those people currently in office won’t have much time to act as lawmakers. That means there will be few if any new laws, giving us somewhat smaller government and few if any new spending plans. There would be no tax reductions, either, but we have adjusted to the high levels of today. We can suffer another 10 years with little additional pain.

The increase in cash to the middle class is self-evident. One report says more than a billion dollars was spent on the presidential race alone. Throw in campaigns for most of the congressional seats, state legislatures, city councils, school boards, water boards and all the additional campaigns for elective office, and the dollar amount is staggering. None of it is filtered through any governmental administrative sieve, which means all of that money gets to the private sector.

All the hundreds of thousands of people who in one way or another are paid from campaign contributions will have more money to spend for goods and services. The economy will surge. Because there will be no new government stimulus spending, current federal revenues can be used to eliminate the deficit and pay for those entitlement programs that always seem to need more dough.

Finally, because much of the money in these campaigns comes from the wealthy, this 10-year plan will effectively move some of that wealth out of the pockets of those who “aren’t paying their fair share.” That might not satisfy people who want to tax that money out of the hands of the rich, but it will accomplish the same thing.

This may sound like a foolish idea. It is. But it can’t be any worse than virtually everything we’ve heard suggested over the last year and a half.


Hawkins is retired after 35 years as a construction industry association manager. He was a broadcast reporter and news anchor in Denver. As a Navy officer, he saw action in Vietnam in the River Assault Squadrons and is the recipient of a Silver Star and Purple Heart. He can be reached at george.hawkins@sddt.com.

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