I used to be in favor of leaving it all up to the voters. It’s their responsibility, I thought, to elect the right dudes to run the country; to kick the ones out who weren’t doing their jobs, or who were doing more than their jobs. But after this latest election season, I’ve changed my mind. So, of course, you’re going to hear about it.
It’s time to establish a one-term limit for all politicians. They are spending way too much of their time on re-election, and not enough on accomplishing the goals they were installed in office to meet. This year, for example, the federal government, for all practical intents, shut down back in July (or before), while 536 people hunkered down, waiting for the elections before making any decisions. (Okay, 2/3 of the Senators were not up for election, but you get my drift).
Even now, as the pundits raise their gaze to 2014 and beyond, the politicians are having trouble reaching an agreement on the fiscal cliff, because of their fear of voter reaction to any cuts in growth or tax increases. What is ridiculous is that no one is even discussing actual cuts in spending, or tax increases on any but the wealthy, yet the hue, cry and clamor rising both sides would leave any rational thinker to believe that true hardships were about to befall—anybody!
Impose one-term limits on everyone, and there might be the possibility that elected officials would go to Washington with the action that they want to take uppermost in their minds, realizing that they have a very short time in which to complete their mission and the certain knowledge that they will not have another opportunity to do so. There is the faintest possibility that acting in their constituents’ best interests may triumph over trade-offs, stalling, can-kicking, and other folderol. Maybe. Without term limits, there seems to be no way to keep any of them in check at all.
At the very least, the time, effort, energy, and money spent on, and obligations associated with, seeking a second term, and a third, and so on, would not come to pass. Our representatives would have no reason to come home every Thursday evening and stay till Tuesday morning, establishing fund-raising offices and outreach programs, all designed to keep the incumbent in. They could actually put in a full work week–although I’m also not agin the part-time politician. Being part-timers would encourage representatives of the people to hold other, private, jobs, and retain those jobs while they complete their political work. Public service would be like a longer-term kind of jury duty: something all citizens should feel as their responsibility, but which actually only a few end up doing.
And where would we find all of those replacements every election? With a nation of 320 million and counting, I think that we will be able to find suitable replacements every couple of years or so. Think about it: each new set of citizen-representatives certainly couldn’t be any worse than some of those who’ve been sent before. Removing the ability to become a career politician may also tend to tone down the rhetoric, as politicking becomes more like a civic duty than a bridge to a better life.
We could even still allow anyone who has held public office to run for another office in the future. The only stipulation would be that he must wait out one election cycle before doing so. That way, no one would be able to use the power of his office to aid his election prospects or take time out from public service to run for any other office. Also, anyone who currently worked for the government, at whatever level, must resign his post in order to run. No one affiliated with the government at all would be able to run for political office. Finally, no one would ever be able run for any office he had previously held, no matter how long he served.
One term, one guy. It’s worth a try.
Image courtesy of digitalart/freedigitalphotos.net