When politicians run for office, they have to beg for votes. Most constituents won’t vote for a candidate unless they’re actually asked to vote for them. And buying votes is generally frowned upon in our society.
So here comes Mr. Candidate to Mr. Voter and he says, “Will you vote for me?” What’s the first thing that Mr. Voter is going to say?
“What are you going to do for me?”
I suppose that’s a legitimate question. The problem is that politicians generally can’t really do much for their constituents.
Except spend money. Your money. My money.
And how do they spend it? By voting. Specifically, by voting “Yes”.
At this point, I should pause and say that most of this is directed at the federal level. The closer politicians actually get to the voters, the less this is true. I’d really like my city councilmen to continue to spend money to fix the potholes on my street. But I’m just about at the point where I don’t want my congressmen and senators to spend any money at all except on federal defense.
And the best way to measure how well they do that is to see how often they vote “No”.
Political organizations have been rating politicians for years based on how they vote. Most of these organizations track how politicians vote on specific issues of concern to them. A “Yes” vote or a “No” vote could be for or against that particular organization’s agenda.
I’d like to see a different view. I’d like to know how many times a politician voted “Yes” or “No” regardless of what the issue is.
I know there are some issues in which I’d like to see a “Yes” vote. But every “Yes” vote involves spending some money, even if it’s money that I wouldn’t mind them spending. The only cost for a “No” vote is the electricity to light and air-condition the chamber while the vote is occurring. I’d be willing to pay for that.
Imagine this. A candidate seeking a political position says something like this in his “stump” speech: “If you elect me, I promise that I will save more of your money than my opponent and I will not spend one dime more than what is absolutely necessary to guarantee the security of our country. I will do this by voting ‘No’ more often than any of my colleagues in Congress.”
That’s the guy who would get my vote.