My thirteen year old grandson, Nic, a regular reader of this blog, gave me a line to use in this column. Before we hand over this country to Nic and his peers, he asked if we could not “open up a can of common sense.” While this column is a pipe dream, it is an attempt at common sense. I recognize, however, this dream will never come true. The reason is simple, those charged with making the change would be the ones most directly affected by the change. Read my thoughts and tell me what you think. The title of this piece is “What If ?”.
What if there was no possibility of re-election, period? I am saying one could be elected for one term to a particular office but could never serve in that job again. And like other contest prizes, only one to a family and only once in a lifetime. No retirement benefits and limited medical insurance coverage. Just do your job and go home. Consider, if you will, how this change would affect us all. One of the first benefits to the constituency would be no seniority. Another, there would be no campaign “war chest” to receive so-called political campaign donations. Individuals would be elected and serve their one term, doing the people’s business, then return to their civilian life. They would not enter office with the foremost thought of being re-elected before they even start doing the people’s business.
How? Pretty simple really. First, we would extend the term of the House to a four year term instead of two. Elections could be staggered so that at any particular time we would be electing only half of the Congress at a time. That should help with those who would need on-the-job time to learn what their job is. We would treat the Senate the same way except we would also reduce their terms to four years. There would be no need to alter the Presidency in any way except no possibility of re-election, period.
Briefly now let us consider the benefit to the country. First and foremost this takes the money out of politics. Several years ago Assemblyman Jesse Unruh, D, Calif., said that money is the mother’s milk of politics. That crap needs to stop. John McCain said that money corrupts good people. I see it a bit differently. I think corrupt people seek out ways to get money. Today, being elected to the Congress is akin to winning the lottery. That is just ridiculous. Politics should not be a career. Serving in the Congress should be an honor and those who serve should be of the highest character and integrity. Is that what we have today? Could be that is why their approval rating is 13%.
The next phase of this new plan deals with the money. No one could ever contribute or accept any money for any political campaign. Any person or company contributing money or any candidate caught receiving any money would immediately be put in prison for a minimum of twenty years. Let’s face it, a bribe is a bribe. If that sounds harsh, it needs to be harsh. These clowns we have now in the Congress are destroying this country. We need to bring it to an end. I can already hear you screaming at me, “Only the rich would be able to run for office if we had this in place.” I understand your concern. All of these matters could be worked out. For example, we could have publicly financed campaigns. Persons wishing to run for office would submit petitions showing a modicum of support to qualify for public financing. There would also be limits on how much of their own money they could spend on any campaign. Violations of the laws regarding money for campaigns would be enforced from the beginning. Believe me, while it would cost some money to have publicly financed campaigns, it would not be nearly as expensive as it is now with Congress for sale to the highest bidder.
I told you from the beginning this piece was about common sense and so it is. One thing is clear. We the people have to get a handle on our government. We have to reduce the influence of money in Washington. We cannot compete with the big moneyed special interests. Can you imagine what this country would look like if honesty and integrity prevailed and our elected representatives just said no to the money? “What if?”
Ron Scarbro August 28, 2011
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