Politics: too much money, out of touch, not accountable. These are the 3 largest roadblocks to a better democracy. 

A combined 2.38 Billion Dollars was spent on the 2012 presidential election. A house race costs easily upwards of $1 Million and a senate seat in these times, double and maybe triple that.With barriers this high, how many normal-everyday folks are going to run for office? At present only 100 young Americans (under 35)  run in the major election cycles.

Lobbying and contributions also hurt. When large industry has the weight of all its money and the mom&pop shops have only the weight of theirs, our laws begin to further from the interests of the public. Only those who can afford to lobby right, win. Check out the food labeling bill in California for an example of that. Money beat #’s.

Accountability? To who. Education is always a priority in election cycles, but when folks get elected it seems ed is the first thing cut. It’s been slashed over the last couple of years. Healthcare? We pay (on average) 200% more on pharmaceuticals and medical visits than people in “developing” nations. This hurts small business & normal people.  

Our legislature is growing older and more disconnected from long term investments. The average age of a congressperson is 65 years old, Senate is 72. Their short term decisions hurt the next generation in the long term especially when it comes to education and global warming.

Fading are the days when one could come here with 5 dollars and make millions weak is that promise to Americas future, but we can fix it. We can make a once great nation, great once more.

We can deepen democracy and make it work better- 4 ideas

1. Amend the minimum age to run for national office to 25 years of age. As long as this barrier remains, people won’t consider a young entrance into Congress. Young people, after college and in close environments have more political opinions and have greater access to information and knowledge that could make them high yielding policymakers. Innovation and long term investments are more likely then.

2. An organization whose sole goal is getting more young people to run for elected office/creating infrastructure for youth to join the table. With only 100 young people running in each electoral cycle there is a youth braindrain in capitol’s all across the nation & DC. We have one of the lowest rates of youth electorate participation in Congress, the UK has 14%. Younger leaders are not consumed by process, but by results whereas more senior policy-makers are very worried about process. If we had young people at the helm working with other international young leaders it may lead us to more innovative solutions faster. This means more impact, more solutions, and more positive governance for Americans all around the country.
3. Get money out of politics. Curb and regulate lobbying heavily or create better practices for them. Monsanto’s successful lobby in California’s stopped legislation that would have labeled GMO’s- they also shelled out millions to make this work. The public isn’t able to mobilize against that much money in the time allotted. We need a fair game. Government’s role is to protect that fairness. It can’t protect that fair game, and the public, if it’s compromised to specific interests.

**In regulating and redefining what lobbying will be it is important have business and CSO’s at the table. Redoing an age-old system (that’s illegal other democracies) should help our industry, civil society, and government function better and grow together- not invest in one at the expense of the others.

4. Commission an Innovation team focused on best practices for transparency and accountability. Foster civic education into the national education infrastructure and engage young people while they are young so they care and pay attention. Help them understand the system and they will care.

Look at Egypt, young people are the greatest chance we have at keeping policymakers accountable and making long term investments into the countries prosperity, but it takes intergenerational leadership.

The role of young people? 

15% of our country is between 25-35 yet only 2% of our House of Representatives fit into that age group. The first way to make political leaders more responsive to young people is to make certain that those leaders are young. Young people will understand their issues better than anyone else. Right now we’ve got a very strong imbalance of youthfulness in our electoral systems, but in the last election 45% of the electorate was young people voting. We need to change that. We also need to build on civic education and ensure that young people know whos running, what issues impact them & who’s taken the best stance on those issues for them. We need something like the UK Youth- an organization that can gather young people nationally and lobby for their interests while informing them whats going on and educating them on how to vote. Voting brings accountability, but undisclosed interests can impact voting. The solution? Curb undisclosed interests and the money they use to impact voting- increase civic education and voter participation and education.

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