Election 2007/2008: Battle for the Future of Philadelphia and the World Part IIt is quite clear, as evidenced across the country, that American politicians are absolutely unrepresentative of the people who send them to statehouses and Washington. We see incumbency become a weird form of radiation that mutates the cellular structure of politicians; these men and women become subhumans (excuse the hyperbole) that espouse views and defend positions that are often indefensible and sickening to their constituents back home (e.g. Schiavo bill) In local government, as seen in Philadelphia, it can get even worse. As a lifelong Philadelphian (only 21 years old) I traveled to Washington DC to attend The George Washington University studying International Affairs and Public Policy. It was there that I learned much more than I wanted about politics and politicians. Being in DC during the presidential primary season and the general election taught me a lot about the role local, regional and national politics plays in the lives of everyday Americans.
Philadelphia politics, like American politics are in desperate need of an overhaul of its human resources. The kind of people we send to City Councils, Statehouses and Congress are not representing the views of their constituents. Of course, people send their representatives away to make decisions in their stead, and if they do not agree then they can get voted out next time around. But this is not happening either. We simply do not care enough to hold our representatives accountable, thereby leaving us terribly vulnerable to unimaginable abuses of power, fiscal irresponsibility and lies masked in things called faith and patriotism. Regardless of political ideology, I believe that if you ask someone who pays attention to what is going on, reads the occasional newspaper and watches a news cast every now and then, they will say with authority that America and their city is moving in the wrong direction.
In 2007, we have the opportunity to set it right. And we can do it in Philadelphia first. Politicians often say we need to get our fiscal house in order. I think we need to get our political house in order. And we can do that by electing pragmatic progressives (of liberal or conservative ideology) to office. However, I argue that these progressives must be young; a new generation must lead us in this 21st century. We need a larger presence of young and dynamic pragmatists in office who are willing to do what is right as opposed to what is politically expedient. Clearly this is idealistic and brings up a few issues. Term limits? Nonpartisan elections? Real campaign finance reform that makes it easier for people who are not millionaires to run for state office? We shall see. But it will take ambitious young progressives to change Philadelphia, America and indeed, the world. I think it begin in Philadelphia, in 2007. Where is the founding conference for those people?