Darren Richardson

April 18, 2012

The American Pundit Writing Assignment for April 16-30 returns from its journey into Satire-land and finds the “real world” political landscape no more encouraging than it was when we left it on March 31. So the new writing assignment turns from a humorous vacation of sorts to a frank discussion about something that never seems to go away: Is the American political system broken? If so, how do we fix it? If not, explain where it works. If a little of both, how do we keep the good and get rid of the bad?

Oh, such heavy questions, laden with all manner of openings for cynicism, hand-wringing and despair. But is there an answer? Are there many answers?

Should we abolish the Electoral College and establish a direct democracy on the federal level for the first time in the history of the United States? Should we pass a constitutional amendment barring corporate personhood? How’s about full transparency for Super PAC funding?

And those ideas are only a start. Many of you reading this probably have an idea (or ideas) that you think would revolutionize American politics for the better. Here’s your invitation to share it with the world and earn cash prizes in the process.

But wait, there’s another side to the story. There are those who think "the American political system" – a convenient euphemism for such a wide array of interconnected, interdependent and yet widely disparate issues, factors and viewpoints – is working just fine. To hear Republican N.C. Rep. Virginia Foxx tell it, the United States is still very much an “opportunity society,” a term that passed Republican lips quite frequently during George W. Bush’s first term.

If you adhere to the “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” philosophy – and it does have its appeal, even apart from Monty Python movies – then tell us why those people who think the whole political process is a travesty are wrong. If you see the glass as half full rather than half empty, lots of people would love to have some of what you’re drinking. Unbottle your thoughts and let them pour out into the global consciousness via the World Wide Web.

But remember:

Polling from a wide variety of sources indicates that most Americans feel things are, in a word, broken.

Although this poll from CNN is from 2010, The Punditty Project is pretty certain that the results would be similar today: CNN Poll: Majority think government is broken. The statistics in the story back up the gloomy title, with 86 percent of poll respondents agreeing with the headline.

But as the Citizens United case so plainly revealed, "politics" involves more than just government. It’s also about corporations having as much of a voice in government by, for and of the people as the real flesh-and-blood people themselves. A February 2011 poll by Gallup found that 62 percent of Americans wanted large corporations to have less influence in the United States.

So what’s a political repairman or repairwoman to do?

Use your punditification skills and let us know. Someone in a position to do so just might take your advice.

If you like writing about U.S. politics and the 2012 campaign, enter "The American Pundit" competition. Allvoices is awarding four $250 prizes each month between now and November. These monthly winners earn eligibility for the $5,000 grand prize, to be awarded after the November election.


Follow PundittyProject on Twitter

The Punditty Project on Facebook

Punditty on Allvoices.com