Beyond "None of the Above"
Dear Friend: April 22, 2018
Some candidates recently asked me: “What are you looking for in a candidate?”
Mahalo for asking, especially as too many critical elections nowadays have too many blank votes for None of the Above (if eligible voters even vote).
I look for:
Real-world experience. The decisions we ask of our elected officials are complicated with real-world impacts across a diverse society. Broad experience in that world allows a decisionmaker to see the best path forward for all.
Hard work. As the saying goes, there is truly no substitute. Elective office takes dedication, commitment and time driven by passion. We can’t afford to entrust it to anyone on cruise control.
Effectiveness. Much of elective office is basic problem-solving but with high complexity and stakes. What really is the problem, what are the options to solve it, how do we identify and choose the best solution, how do we get it done?
Empathy. We’ve all lived in our own shoes, but can we put ourselves in others’? The ability to do so is essential to wise decisionmaking and especially to achieving the universal values of equality, opportunity, compassion and tolerance.
Independence. Too many only want government to do their bidding for their own interests; for them dependence and control to get what they want are the goal. But government only works for the common good when it resists that pull and represents all.
Moderation. Extremism on the far right or left of the political spectrum or on any issue adds to the debate but is not where we forge the best solutions. Nobody has a lock on the best ideas and a moderate inclusive approach usually has the best chance at acceptance and success.
Passion. This doesn’t mean just yelling and screaming. It means waking up every day with a burning desire to better our state, country and world, whether one is loud or quiet about it.
Future focus. Too often our candidates and elected officials hang on to the past while ignoring the future. Yes we must respect and learn from our past, but dwelling there just holds us back. What we can do something about is our future.
Long term view. Today’s cluttered and noisy debate and right-now media cycle traps us in the short-term. But can one rise above all that and look to the long term: where do we want to be in a year, decade or generation; how do we get there; is this the best way even at the expense of now?
Straight talk. Just give it to me straight. I can handle the truth, even if I don’t like it, even if I disagree with your solution.
Courage. The best leaders in history, science, art, culture, government, you name it, led from the front, often alone and targeted by most. Every elected official is called upon for courage though too few can and do answer that call.
Decisionmaking. In our representative democracy, the ultimate job of our elected officials is to make decisions for all. Anyone who has trouble doing that shouldn’t apply for the job.
Power handler. Another saying goes that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. It is certainly seductive. Some handle it well; it doesn’t go to their heads and they stay focused on the common good. But others don’t; they descend into arrogance, cronyism, special interest focus and questionable personal behavior. Often the warning signs can be seen in past actions or along the campaign trail.
Moral center. An elected official faces constant choices between doing the right thing and yielding to other paths. If she or he doesn’t have a strong moral compass as a guide, there is great risk given the power entrusted.
Are there such people out there? Certainly! I’ve seen and worked with many throughout Hawaii and beyond in all parts of my career and life, to include politics and government.
I hope I see them on my ballot. I don’t want to vote for None of the Above.
Ed Case - Hawai'i
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Fix Politics Now!
We hold these truths to be self-evident,
that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,
that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men,
deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed....
Aloha, Friend: March 24, 2018
Do you believe that your government is acting with your consent as envisioned in our Declaration of Independence? Or do you believe, like a growing majority of fellow Americans, that the bond between government and governed is dangerously close to breaking, the victim of relentless money-first, party-first, special interest-first, win-at-all-costs focus?
This is not just some political science debate. For in this accelerating disconnect, the greatest challenges facing Americans are going unanswered by the very leaders we elect to address them. Clearly the problem cannot and will not produce the solution; that must be led by the governed.
Issue One is the leading national nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to political reform and government ethics. It is focused on the core civic issue of our time: fixing democracy for the sake of returning our government to the people.
Three years ago Issue One began the ReFormers Caucus, a diverse coalition of former members of Congress, governors and Cabinet officials now almost 200 strong and still growing! We aim to dedicate our unique knowledge and experience inside the system to highlighting the threat and working with fellow citizens toward real solutions.
Last week Audrey and I joined my fellow ReFormers Caucus members in Philadelphia where it all began. We gathered in tiny Carpenters’ Hall, where the First Continental Congress convened in 1774 and in just seven weeks hammered out many of the basic principles and compromises on which our democracy is based.
There we unveiled our Declaration to Renew the Founders’ Promise and invited our fellow citizens to join our recommitment. Later, at the National Constitution Center overlooking a floodlit Independence Hall, we conducted a live citizens town hall to jumpstart a national focus on fixing politics.
It was deeply humbling and inspiring, and we came away from Philadelphia not with despair but with hope and belief that we can all renew the promise, just as we have before.
The broad outlines at all levels of government are to promote transparency and disclosure, increase participation in elections, reduce pay-to-play politics, strengthen enforcement of existing laws, and improve government integrity and accountability. Specific proposals include curbing soft and dark money contributions and strengthening conflict of interest and ethics rules.
We need you! Here are just a few ways you can help take our government back:
-Join growing numbers of your fellow citizens who have signed our Declaration to show your own commitment to real reform.
-Ask your U.S. Senators and Representatives to join the Congressional Reformers Caucus and sign on to proposed legislation to fix politics now.
-Make political reform your top issue in the critical elections for federal, state and local government this year and hold your candidates accountable with your support and vote.
As I sat in Carpenters’ Hall with my colleagues, I reflected that the founders who met there almost two-and-a-half centuries ago didn’t then know that much of the rest of the world, including Hawai’i, even existed. Yet they declared universal ideals that earned the consent of the governed and have stood the test of time and place.
Ideals that, in these difficult times, are worth fighting for, all over again.
Ed Case - Hawai'i