I have to be honest, it irritates the damn hell out of me that House Representatives and Senators and elected officials across our great 50 can engross themselves with political power and influence with little accountability due to the relative inability of the electorate to instate reasonable term limits.
Year after year, term after term, we watch as our elected officials gerrymander, vote themselves pay raises, trade influence for donations and gifts of all sorts – above the radar and beneath it. We watch with disdain and judgment as Russia closes the curtain on its sovereign democracy and Master Putin asserts his constant iron-fisted rule. Haha, you fools! America has the most superior democracy in the land!
Sure, our president has term limits. The Legislative Branch, however does not. Nor does the Supreme Court.
The longer Reps and Sens serve, the more their influence and name recognition and fundraising ability grows and the more difficult it is to vote them out of power. Ted Stevens, who has been a senator since 1968, was just convicted of seven felonies and Alaska still can’t manage to vote the bastard out (though many votes are yet to be counted, so it could potentially happen). Barring a scandal or once-in-a-blue-moon alteration in voter sentiment on a national level, the vast majority of incumbents find themselves sitting pretty on election day.
Every day a government official serves, is another day closer to the next election. And these people are pathologically competitive – they are not driven by a selfless need to serve. Their arrogance and certainty in their superiority keeps them fighting toward election day again and again. Politicians can’t take steroids, however, to win their races. So they take lobbying donations.
And who do you think they were talking to during bailout negotiations? As House Reps were hearing from their constituents across the land not vote for the bailout, the many Representatives held back, claiming to abide by the wishes of their specific supporters.
Not so. An army of lobbyists were unleashed by the banking industry to insure a little extra sugar was inserted into the bailout package. You see, Great Britain included stipulations in their bailout package requiring the banks to start issuing loans in order to receive government funds. Not ours. And, golly gee, they’re not loaning any money. Neither Congress, nor the Bush administration specified the bailout cash could not be used for executive bonuses. And with Christmas coming up, who do you think Santa will visit? Right.
The latest stinger is that the Treasury Dept. issued a notice during all the bailout hubbub giving banks a tax break if they acquire other failing banks. Tax payers could end up paying nearly $140 billion for this new policy. Certain legislators have openly questioned this potentially illegal move (Congress never even got to debate the new tax policy), however, we’re only now hearing about these reprehensible shenangians AFTER the election and most congresspeople won’t even touch it with a ten-foot pole because they think the attention could lead to greater economic mire.
As the bailout battle waged, the package grew sweeter by the hour for the banking industry. The Reps weren’t holding off because of their constituents, they were playing fast and dirty with banking lobbyists. Most of them will be returning to the House next year, spank you very much. The lack of term limits once again ensures the Corporatocracy of America thrives, feeding voraciously off the American consumer and taxpayer.
Furthermore, there is an entrenched dance and culture in Congress new members must learn. Obama felt the wrath of McCain after offering bi-partisan cooperation on lobbying and ethics reform and then having to rescind that offer to save his hiney from uber-partisan Harry Reid. Obama had yet to learn the dance. Hillary learned it fairly well – junior Senators keep their mouths shut, nose to the grindstone and prostrate themselves before their party elders. With such unspoken, yet rigid rules and ginormous egos, it is no wonder our Congress is fairly ineffective much of the time and certainly slow to respond to voter sentiment.
This petrifying and paralytic condition in our legislative branches both state and federal would have a much harder time clogging the engine of government if the cleansing of term limits were permitted.
Now, U.S. Term Limits asserts House members should be limited to three two-year terms. Other proposals have been for Senators only have two six-year terms available to them while House members have six two-year terms available. I think giving everyone an opportunity for two four-year terms, like the president, would be optimum solution.
The Supreme Court should also have term limits. Justices should serve no more than 12 years I see no benefit in the appointment, especially of younger justices, for life as times, traditions, cultures and the American people change and grow and progress. Our leadership should reflect our values and opinions. We should not be held hostage by the ideologues of yesteryear or yesterdecade.
The argument against term limits is that if the government official is not performing properly, they should be ousted through an election. Term limits punish good performances and erase the motivation for good behavior by a lame-duck representative. This is a short-sighted argument. There are plenty, plenty of qualified Americans to represent Americans at the federal level. Term limits hinder the ability of career-politicians to sacrifice the good of the American people for their self interests.
Would we lose a few good politicians? Sure. But term limits would profit voters and Americans in a significant decrease in lack of corruption and lobbying influence. Lame duck legislators would have an eye on their legacy, not their approval ratings, which would be a much more effective motivator for proper governance.
Americans overwhelmingly approve of term limits. According to a Pulse Opinion Research Poll, 83 percent of Americans believe elected officials should serve limited terms. Though this poll only surveyed 1,000 people, many ballot initiatives in the 1990’s for term limits were approved. In fact, movements against term limits are largely funded by special interests whose livelihoods depend on the success of the Corporatocracy of America.
The national electorate, however, is practically powerless to have term limits approved. The debate over length of terms and specific term limits would be long and hard fought. And the Supreme Court decided in 1995 that the states could not issue term limits on their federal representatives. You cannot have some senators under term limits and others not. Basically, the Congress would have to approve their own term limits – and it ain’t happenin’ any time soon, sister.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful we could just have a national election and let the American voters decide if our federal representatives should have term limits? How democratic! But you see, we have a representative democracy – not a direct democracy. We elect representatives to carry out the will of the majority of the electorate. It is meant to protect against tyranny of the majority. Ergo, no national proposition on term limits.
So, we must wait until the fat kid decides it’s time for him to put the cookie jar down. We Americans can lobby the kid, yell at the kid, try and try and try to convince the fat kid that cookies aren’t good for him. He needs vegetables, dammit! But that kid has the “over my dead body” look in his eyes. Maybe one day we’ll get close enough to the fat kid to choke him until he sees the light. I’ll certainly try.
And I’ll be keeping a close eye on fat kid Bloomberg up in New York who led the City Council in sneaking term limits out the back door while the peeps were paying attention to the crashing stock market and plummeting retirement savings. Some concerned citizens and future politicians are suing to stop the mayor from poisoning their well of democracy and I wish them all the success in the world. His behavior is shameful.
And that’s the problem with politicians. They all want to save the world. But they want to be the ones to do it. The only ones. The first ones. No one else can save the world the way they can. So, they hold on to their seats by whatever means possible. And until we decide as a nation to give more and more good citizens their opportunity to serve their country and remove then remove them before they are sullied by the game, we will suffer in a multitude of unfortunate and unnecessary ways.
Federal politicans always claim they’re going to change the way things are done in Washington. Every election season find change in Washington the main mantra. The biggest change, the best change would undoubtedly be the limitation of terms. It would be revolutionary. And we’d be pissed off at our government a lot less.