Fixing US politics in the Donald Trump era is going to be tough. But if Trump and his DC cohort are paying attention to polls, there are danger signs ahead on their current path.
According to a Washington Post and the U of Maryland survey, 71 percent of those polled thought that the country was at a “dangerous low point.”
Also released today was an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll about Trump’s sinking approval ratings. Among modern presidents, his numbers are the lowest.
Still, Trump is only in his first year as President. Unlike others, I am not optimistic about his impeachment or resignation. Moreover, I doubt if Trump’s departure will help to tackle our issues.
There are three ways in which ordinary people can repair our rot.
Fixing US Politics: Voting Against Extremists
On Wednesday, a Fox News poll showed that a majority felt that Trump was “tearing the country apart.”
True, Trump is not the only divisive figure. Clearly, some Democrats fall into that category, as the 2016 elections showed.
However, when it comes to 2017 elections, Republican candidates are pushing divisive messages.
In Alabama’s Senate race, Republican candidate Roy Moore thinks gay marriage is worse than slavery. Virginia’s Republican candidate for governor, Roy Gillespie, is issuing inflammatory Trumpian ads demonizing immigrants.
Unfortunately, these messages might work to tip the close elections. If people want to reject division and extremism, the Democratic base, moderate Republicans, and independents must turn out to vote.
Fixing US politics: Curbing Big Money Influence
Mobilizing voters is one of the many reasons why money plays a vital role in US politics and policy.
People are quick to complain about corruption in developing countries. But in US politics, influence-peddling disguised as “lobbying” and the “First Amendment,” does not seem to bother many.
One exception to this indifference is Fred Wertheimer, a leading expert on money in politics. In a Sunday op-ed, he called for small donors to use technology and social media to check the political influence of big money.
For most campaigns, one major expense is for media. Through mailers, digital sites, and TV ads, candidates mobilize voters and attack opponents.
In politics, TV commercials still consume the highest share of ad revenue. During the long US campaigns, political ads are a constant irritant on our TV shows.
Perhaps free ads, for a shorter time, could also help to curb the influence of money in politics. Although the media may not like this, it would be better for our democracy.
Fixing US politics: Media Focus
Not only the ads, but also divisive politics are a financial boon for the media. Both old and new media have benefited from increased political polarization.
Naturally, the media is feeding our interest in the latest politicians’ outrages. However, they could also focus on more positive stories.
For example, Saturday’s decisive rejection of white supremacist rallies in Tennessee by Tennesseans was inspiring. The media should publicize it more widely.
In fixing US politics, the media and ordinary voters need to focus on what unites us rather than what divides us. It may be tough, but we must try.