Thursday, August 19, 2010

One Simple Fix for America

I normally don't blog about politics, and I don't intend to do so much, but I believe almost every citizen of the US is sick to death of how bad our politics have gotten. There is no one on any side of the spectrum who is willing to do the hard things that are necessary in order to stave off some pretty nasty things that are coming in the not so distant future. It doesn't matter what they believe, even if they are for it, they still won't vote for anything that they feel may endanger their reelection chances.

That one word, 'reelection', is the cornerstone of our political problems. From the moment an official takes office, almost everything they do is based around their reelection. They know that we must fix many big problems, like Social Security or the mounting debt, but even if they are for doing this they still won't touch it, because it means death to their reelection hopes.

I think the solution is rather simple, though of course it will never be implemented. There should be no reelections.

I would lengthen the term of each office by some reasonable amount, say 8-10 years for presidency and senators and 6 years for a representative, but no one is allowed to be reelected to any office. The benefits to this are clear -- officials would not be worrying about being booted from office and could focus directly on their actual job. An additional benefit would be the flow of fresh 'blood' through the system on a regular basis. People will argue that there are good things to be said for getting seniority in office, but I don't think it is hard to see that the current system is quite broken and having seniority is certainly not a valid enough reason to keep a system where people refuse to do what is right in favor of their own tenuous grips on power.

In the comments, Bethany mentions that people will not want to aim for politics as a career if they can't remain in power. Well, I don't believe it should be a career, nor do I think our founding fathers meant for it to be. Much as with juries (and the founding fathers themselves), political office should be a temporary public service performed by good, intelligent citizens concerned for their country.


  1. The only problem is that people don't want to go through several years of schooling and a long career-building process for one term, only to have reached the pinnacle of their career without any hope of advancement. Perhaps a similar solution could be keep the shorter terms, maybe tack on a year or two, and have no reelections - but the incumbant is allowed to run again after 1 term out of office. It doesn't solve the problem quite so neatly, I grant, but it would probably help.
    A benefit of that is that elected officials would think more long-term policies, things that would pay off in five or six years as opposed to right this minute.
    Good thoughts though. :) And you're right, it probably will never happen. Hopefully SOMETHING will, though.

  2. Bethany, I don't believe our founders meant for it to be a career. It is more about the ability of intelligent amateurs (much as the founders themselves were) doing public service for a bit before returning to their normal lives. Also, there is nothing that says you can't go from being a representative to being a governor or a senator.

  3. That thought crossed my mind as I read the beginning of your post. Unfortunately, I think many of them would believe that since it didn't matter what they did once they reached office, because it's a secure gig for a few years, they'd still do nothing.

  4. ok, talking politics in public forums ALWAYS gets me in trouble (no one ever agrees with me)
    but YAY!

  5. Well the two party system is clearly broken, having become a thinly veiled oligarchy run by corporations and their lobbyists. I think this is a very interesting idea, but I'm not sure it would solve anything.

    The problem is that by definition anyone interested in being a public official is automatically not qualified. It should be like those countries where every citizen has to do two years in the army or something like that.

  6. Great thoughts, Ted. Super post!

    I'd add something else- watch that they don't vote themselves a huge retirement benefit and we have to pay them wads of cash for the rest of their lives.

    And lobbyists! They are the ones really running the show. We should solve that one too.

    Oh man, now I'm tired and it's only 8:40am.

  7. There are some merits to this. My problem is there is also then NO accountability. At all. I like longer terms because THEN there is time for the hard choices and the 'what the public wants' to balance each other--or for the hard choices to PROVE that they were necessary choices.

    My solution though, would be a multi-party system. Right now the issues are split into two camps, when really there are 8-10 ideologies that would realign differently depending on the ISSUE. The conservative Christians and environmentalists have 'preserve this planet we are stewards for' in common, but are NEVER allowed to align. Look at immigration--both parties split based on the PIECE of the issue they find more valuable, but they can't change sides on the issue. If representatives were free to move as their priorities dictated, rather than as their party bullied, I think we would get more logical decisions.

    That's my opinion on the matter, anyway.

  8. I have to agree with you. I would also add in this little stipulation... that whoever runs for office has to have worked in the blue collar industry at some point and when their term is over, they get to go back to their job. All of these politicians out there who have never worked a day in their life or got by on mom and dad's money to hang out at school just doesn't cut it. Not only are they not focused on the tasks before them, but sometimes they have no clue as to what a day in the life of the average American is like. They've never had to live pay-check to pay-check. Some have, but not many.
    And Seniority? ::Snorts:: All Seniority means is more bribe money lining their pockets and buried in their expansive back yards.

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  10. Amen Ted. Amen.

    I hate the games politicians play just to get re-elected. The phrases that are coded and oozing in in disdain (Say no to the mosque= voters, no to abortion= voters, yes to health care= voters)...

    None of them are earnest about wanting to actually do anything but bask in the illusion of power.

    1 Term. Period. I think we should also be allowed to vote for supreme court justices and have them serve 10-12 years.

  11. I see value in term limits and I agree with Hart about the multi-party system. Another piece that is vital to change is publicly funded elections. Until we removed the massive amounts of corporate money from the system, we will never see real change.