Photo Credit: Rhys Baker
Political alienation plagues our nation, and most of us are correct in feeling that we have little to no impact on the decisions that govern our lives. Research shows that the average American has “near-zero” influence on public policy, while those with wealth have “significant influence.” Unfortunately, this conclusion is based on data from the 1980s and 1990s, and things have only gotten worse since then.
This problem is of increasing concern in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in which campaign finance limits are non-existent and political district lines would be more fairly drawn by an energetic puppy with a sharpie taped to its tail. The state also has no limits on the value of gifts to state legislators. If you are feeling particularly generous—or self-interested—you can take a legislator to the Super Bowl or pay off the student debt of his or her child.
In Pennsylvania, the democratic system isn’t broken. It’s dead. And regardless of political affiliation, Pennsylvanians are correct in having lost faith in our government.
But here’s the deal: Recognizing this sober truth, as depressing and upsetting as it may be, does not preclude reason to hope that things can get better.
Anger and aimlessness lead to helplessness and apathy. But when solutions are coupled with a plan to achieve them, our emotions are transformed into positive, constructive political action. This plan of action is what Pennsylvanians need now.
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