We all want a better world, but what does that look like? How can we achieve it? What are the right steps? The first ones?
A better world is best accomplished when those in power first and foremost have integrity. Integrity is being honest and honoring your word.
A democracy full of politicians with integrity provides a baseline to compare leaders to each other. If I know a politician will deliver on their promises I can realistically compare them to their opponent’s promises. My choice becomes a comparison based on complete information. Today it is a comparison based on guesswork. I have to guess what a politician will actually do versus what they are telling me. I have to evaluate how well they kept their word in the past, guess at their dealmaking and policy skills and guess how self-interested they are. This is hard, exhausting and frustrating.
When I trust a politician will do what they say or at least try their hardest, the comparison becomes easier. I evaluate the reasonableness of their promises and their skill at accomplishing them.
Can we ever get to a place where politicians act with integrity? I think so. We simply need to make it very hard to win an election if you break your word. Regardless of party, policy stance or personal charm, if you don’t do what you promise then you’re fired.
Campaign Finance as a Force for Good
Outside of voting, campaign donations are the biggest factor in determining who wins and who loses elections. I propose to turn the very thing that has corrupted our democracy, campaign finance, into the antidote to dishonesty. When a politician acts with integrity, fund their campaign. When they act without it, fund their opponent. It’s that simple.
You may ask, “Well, what if their opponent also acts without integrity?” Great question. Fund the politician who has more integrity. Then immediately after they are elected fund whoever will challenge that politician next election. This holds politicians accountable for their lack of integrity. Once politicians know acting without integrity has consequences, they will start keeping their word. If they don’t, eventually a challenger will come along who does. Then we fire the dishonest politician and elect the one with integrity.
Our whole political system is suffering from a breakdown in integrity. If we step outside of our partisan blinders and choose to solve for integrity first it will lay the foundation to solve so many other problems.