We need election reform badly in this country

I had to start taking a wheelbarrow to the mailbox.

It’s not that I get a ton of mail usually. It’s just that the election propaganda was at a volume I have never seen – especially for a mid-term election.

This guy is a fraud. This woman is a liar. That dude will raise your taxes. That person will slice your healthcare. And let’s not forget about being a part of the “Madigan machine in Springfield.”

I can count on one finger the mailers I got that simply gave the positions of the candidate. You know, actual useful information.

For now, the election nightmare is over. And depending on how you align yourself politically, things are looking better or worse. I just hope everyone voted and we can now move on.

But this election crystalized a few things for me. Yes, it was incredibly mean and nasty and personal. Personal in a way I can’t really remember. And divisive? Forget about it. It was a painful thing to watch.

The politics of “us vs. them” seem to be in vogue right now, and that is not good for the country – right, left or center.

What can be done? Well, we have talked about people who are so entrenched that they don’t even think of the “other side” as Americans who love their country. I heard one U.S. Senator from Texas say the other side is trying to steal your freedom.

That kind of hyperbole would be funny if so many people didn’t buy into it.

There are some things we can do, as voters – the real people in charge – to get things moving in the right direction again.

First, we need to take the big money out of politics. We need campaign finance reform badly. If you thought having these big corporations and rich people dumping piles of money into campaigns would be a good thing, I believe the last couple of elections cycles have proven it is not a good thing at all. No, corporations are not people, and they should not have more of a say in our elections than the American public.

Campaigns should be publicly financed. Level the playing field. Focus on the issues, not the personal attacks.

We need to get more ordinary folks interest in running for office. Right now, we are governed by rich people. Not that there is anything wrong with having money, but they simply don’t look at the world in the same way the rest of us do. Here in Illinois, we had two super rich dudes throwing wads of their own cash into a race for governor that was just awful to watch. The could have done so much more to better people’s lives with that money.

Politics is not sporting events. We have got to stop looking at everything as winning and losing. The political parties and their supporters are so entrenched, we can’t even recognize the other side as people, much less Americans. I will give Fox News some credit. It has finally dropped all pretense of neutrality and openly campaigned with the president.

Spending all of your time caught in a loop of information that simply reinforces your world view is not healthy. It feeds that us vs. them thing.

Finally, we need to be better informed as voters. That is our job. I heard and watched candidates and their surrogates blatantly lying about voting records. It was appalling. But if you just simply believe the candidate of your party of choice, please don’t consider yourself a well-informed voter.

Read. Learn. Listen. We need to do a better job of being Americans.