“The natural cure for an ill administration, in a popular or representative constitution, is a change of men.” — Alexander Hamilton
The current state of democracy is broken. I’ve written before (NOTE: In “The Real 1%” – need to do a re-write!!) about the distinction between the political class and the rest of the population. Democracy has always had its problems (see for example the wikis on Tammany Hall and Boss Tweed). In the prior post the I referenced above, I shared Winston Churchill’s quote about democracy being “the worst form of government, except for all the others that have been tried.” But I fear we are reaching the stage where the system is beginning to breakdown completely.
Democracy is supposed to be government “of the people, by the people, for the people” to pull from the last line of Lincoln’s Gettysberg Address. Today, thanks to connectivity through the internet, actual government of, by and for the people is more possible that ever before. But it takes an engaged populous to make that happen.
I am convinced that an important step in the process of the people taking back control of their government is term limits in all elected positions, not just at the federal level, but at the state and local levels as well. The only way to truly stop the never ending growth and encroachment of the government on the life and liberty of the individual, is to end the system that enables and promotes careerist politicians.
Although term limits initiatives have had some success, most political bodies will never enact legislation that will essentially put a limit on their own political careers. Through state ballots, some states have tried to put term limits in place for their Congressional representatives. But the Supreme Court has ruled that it is unconstitutional for individual states to “impose qualifications for prospective members of the U.S. Congress that are stricter than those specified in the Constitution.” So the only way to legally mandate Congressional term limits would be through an amendment to the Constitution.
Yeah, good luck with that.
So it seems likely that the only real way to enact term limits will be through direct action of the people. How? Through Voter Enforced Term Limits at the ballot box. People need to start voting out incumbents, no matter what their party affiliation.
In my new home state of Utah, Orrin Hatch is running for a SEVENTH term to the US Senate. He has been a Senator since 1976!! I don’t want to get into his service record, which you could argue about either way. But 36 years is way past the point of ridiculousness. And he wants the people of Utah to make it 42 by giving him another 6 years. This is exactly what is wrong with our system of government. Entrenched, career politicians, who spend more of their time worrying about how to get re-elected the next time around than in making the hard legislative decisions to fix our current problems.
If you want to read more about the Hatch election battle, Michelle Malkin had a good opinion piece on it yesterday.
Nancy Pelosi has been in the House of Representatives for 25 years. It is time for her to go. Her district will not vote for a Republican, probably at least in the next 100 years (okay that may be hyperbole). Fine, I don’t care. Put another Democrat in there. But get rid of the career politicians that are driving this country over a cliff.
If I were a Republican living in Pelosi’s district, I would change my party affiliation to Democrat and vote for the non-Pelosi candidate in the Democratic primaries. Because the district is voting Democrat. There is no point voting for the Republican in the general election. He or she will lose. The only chance of effectuating a change is to participate in the election that matters. (By the way, the primaries in California may have already happened, I’m not going to waste my time checking. This is just meant to be an example of the action that needs to occur.)
I recently saw a post on Facebook by some high school friends of mine, complaining about the local government in Dearborn, MI and the chances of re-election for the mayor. My answer? Get off your ass and get engaged in the process to make sure the mayor is defeated in the next election. And then make sure whoever replaces him loses his/her job 8 years from now no matter how good of a job they do (sooner if they don’t get it done in their first term).
The argument I always here in support of incumbents and careerist politicians is “experience matters.” That is the argument Hatch makes as he blasts that local airwaves here in Utah to try to defeat his primary opponent.
Bullshit. Integrity matters. Intelligence matters. Having life experiences outside of politics and a perspective on what business owners, working people (I’d argue that business owners also fall into this category), and the rest of the non-political class go through on a day-to-day basis matters.
Political experience is the problem, not the answer. I’m pretty sure I could select 20 random people off the street, put them through a vetting process to determine who among them is the most capable, and that at least 5 of those people would be capable of doing a better job for their constituents and for the country than Orrin Hatch or Nancy Pelosi.
I guarantee you that if voters started firing incumbents and turning their backs on the political machines that run most elections in this country, good, capable people will step up as candidates for office. But it makes no sense to waste your time, effort, and money in a futile case when you know the outcome before the race has even begun.
This needs to be a grass roots movement and I’m not sure how that happens or what is necessary for it to gain momentum. But if there is any hope of moving back from the precipice, I guess it has to start somewhere, with some kernel of a thought. We’ll see where it goes from there.
“Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at large, that they have but little opportunity of knowing its true interests, and when they succeed to the government are frequently the most ignorant and unfit of any throughout the dominions.” — Thomas Paine