I’ve always wondered why the President is the only elected official from the “big three” to have to operate under the rule of term limits. While I believe this to be the correct rule to follow, none of the congressional members have to abide by the same restriction.
This is especially distrubing regarding the office of the Senate, as this so called “most exclusive club in America” weild’s perhaps the most power of any elected representative branch of political positions in the country.
The following is a list compiled of active senators, with an arbitrary cut off date of 1989, to exhibit just how entrenched some of the people in our political system have become:
Chris Dodd, Connecticut -1981
Joe Biden, Delaware – 1973
Daniel Inouye, Hawaii – 1963
Barbara Mikulski, Maryland – 1987
Ted Kennedy, Massachusetts – 1962
John Kerry, Massachusetts – 1985
Carl Levin, Michigan – 1979
Max Baucus, Montana – 1979
Harry Reid, Nevada – 1987
Jeff Bigaman, New Mexico – 1983
Kent Conrad, N. Dakota – 1987
Pat Leahy, Vermont – 1975
Robert Byrd, W. Virginia – 1959
John Rockafeller, W. Virginia – 1985
Herb Kohl, Wisconson – 1989
Tom Harkin, Iowa – 1985
Joe Leiberman, Connecticut – 1989
Richard Shelby, Alabama – 1987
Ted Stevens, Alaska – 1968
John MaCain, Arizona – 1987
Chuck Grassley, Iowa – 1981
Pete Domenici, New Mexico -1973
Arlin Spector, Pennsylvania – 1981
Orrin Hatch, Utah – 1977
These are no longer servants of the people, instead they live to serve themselves. The hunger for re-election is what drives them, and the entrenched nature of their positions is what guides them as to how to vote, introduce bills, and kill the ones that don’t placate their lobbyists.
It’s an insidious cycle, of which they freely take part, and one that does a larger disservice to the good of our country that is past the point of measurement.
There is a crisis of corruption that permeates the highest levels of our government. You need look no further than recent scandalous activities such as that which bought down Ted Stevens, the longest active serving senator, Jefferson “Cold-cash” Clinton, or the broader corruption regarding Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, which involved Chris Dodd and Chuck “U” Schumer, among others, forcing these entities to dole out loans to people totally unqualified , but who would tend to vote democratic in a subtle form of quid-pro-quo. Then there is Robert Byrd, who has, in his state, umpteen parks, civic centers, and road projects named for him, all due to his powerful seniority and adeptness at acquiring needless pork-barrel spending.
The purpose of the House of Representatives, as our founders created it, is to be the “citizen’s legislature”, where, every two years, the elected officials would have to return to their constituents, listen to them, explain how they would address the issues brought to them, and return to Washington as the citizens’ voice in government. The current limitless set-up is structured in such a way that the representitive’s only desire is to continue their career indefinitely, doing what is told to them by their senior reps, and accumulating re-election monies from outside influences and lobbyists.
The same can be said for the Senate, only it is amplified to a degree where most can be bought for the right price, and votes are cast not for the common good, but for the benefit of the influential few.
Whole ideological agendas are rammed through both houses, agendas built on differing ideas of how they believe society should be controlled and built on blocks of money derived from the highest bidders, with no interest in the health of the country. They are driven by a few powerful entities with deep pockets and selfish agendas, sustained by a symbiotic relationship with our representatives whose only concern is the next re-election.
It’s a sickening, depressing culture which needs a complete overhaul for the country to survive in a noble sense.
Term limits are the easiest, surest way of putting the government out of this insipid way of conducting legislative affairs, and would be beneficial in many ways:
* The institutions would be almost instantly changed to a “citizens legislature”.
* Lobbiests and special interests would have little effect on the way in which candidates vote.
* It would introduce new ideas, a more “common sense” way of thinking.
* It would do more for campaign finance reform than any misguided bill that could ever be enacted by entrenched politicians.
* Staff positions would no longer carry such powerful entitlements, and they would not be so succeptable to the lure of power and stature.
* Competition among candidates would be of a more substantive nature, debating more important issues than negative fringe issues.
* Incumbants would no longer have a substantial advantage over newcomers, and would be forced to run on their record as opposed to smearing an unknown candidate.
* Term limits would effectively disinfect the offices of both the Senate and the House, by rewarding committee chairs based on merit and not seniority.
A Constitutional amendment would need to be ratified, limiting the terms of Representatives to perhaps 3 terms (6 years) and 2 terms for the Senate (8 years).
This would help to erase the stranglehold that seniority has on committee positions, introducing fresh faces and new ideas passed on by the very people these candidates are meant to represent. Both State and National “party bosses” would be marginalized, their power diminished as spectators by the ineffectiveness of their positions, eradicating their ability to make or brake a person’s political future.
The political structure of amassing power, and leveraging it between a few tainted politicians, is fast becoming our country’s biggest threat. Something needs to be done to change this. And no “campaign finance” law will ever do the job.
It’s up to us to make it work.