Making government representative

Posted: Wednesday, August 08, 2007

As ancient observers noted, a democracy - in which the voice of each person is weighed - is almost impossible to achieve. Perhaps today, with the Internet and e-mail, we can get close to that, but it still is an illusion. A complete democracy is impossible.

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What has worked, is a representative government in which the people elect some individuals to represent them as citizens. Those who run for office are honored because they may have to give up a large income, a good job in private industry, to serve the people. They give themselves to public service. We honor them for devoting their time and efforts to "public service."

Yet with our present system, those representatives, supposedly elected to represent the voters, can accept money and other benefits from anyone - any source that supports them. It is extremely expensive to run a political campaign. Many running for an elected office seek contributions from outside their constituency. Large statewide and national organizations contribute to their campaigns. But, there are strings attached. For those outside contributions, they want attention. They want their desires served by the winners of elections. They try to buy those who are supposed to represent us as voters.

There is a simple solution to this problem. The state of Alaska can, and perhaps should, enact a law that says only registered voters in the candidate's election district may contribute to a candidate's election. Others, those outside the candidate's election district, could exercise their right to free speech and support a candidate's proposals and positions. Nevertheless, anyone who is not a registered voter in the candidate's election district could not contribute to the candidate's election campaign. Such a law would simply say that, to contribute to a candidate's campaign, you must be a registered voter in that election district.

Such a law would prohibit individuals or organizations outside the state, or from another election district in Alaska, from trying to take away our rights as Alaskans to elect our representative. Others may support the proposals or views of our candidates, but only Alaskans as registered constituents in that election district could contribute to the election campaigns of those destined to represent us.

We may not have a democracy, but we certainly do have a right to a truly representative government. We don't want Alaskans to be represented by the highest bidder.

Wallace M. Olson

Auke Bay

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