As I sit here contemplating the end of the government “shutdown” I cannot help but feel that our government has gotten much less responsive to the will of the people. Part of that isn’t their fault. There remains, almost 3 weeks after the implementation of Obamacare, a significant number of Americans who are completely and utterly clueless as to the nature of that law and the impact it will have. It’s hard to blame, entirely, the politicians who get elected, sent to DC, and are then summarily ignored by 90% of their constituents. Still, it is no secret that the very act of being elected seems to change the focus of these people. They are far less concerned with the stance and desires of their constituents and far more absorbed with the edicts and desires of their Party leadership. Virginia has 2 Democrat Senators. Neither one has ever – not a single day or in a single vote – ever shown an ounce of concern for what’s in the interests of Virginia. They both vote as the Democratic Party leadership tells them to vote.
Republicans are no better.
I’m not suggesting that a 3rd party would necessarily help that (although if you ask me today, I’m a helluva lot more supportive of the idea than I was a few weeks ago) but I would like to suggest that keeping people from becoming nearly-permanent fixtures in office almost certainly would. I have been reading The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic by Mark Levin and have been giving some of his suggestions some serious consideration. The very first of the proposed amendments there, and the first that I would make, as well, is to limit the terms for members of Congress. We limit the President to 2 terms and I think that would be a good model to apply to Congress as well. However, given that we’re looking at different term lengths between the Senate and the House, a better way to quantify this would be to set a number of years. Two terms as a senator would be 12 years so let’s make that the limit. A member of Congress can serve for 12 years, no more, and that’s whether they’re a Representative, a Senator, or a combination of the two.
Note that this doesn’t change how these Congressional members are elected or the terms of office for either. A senator still gets 6 years in office and a representative still gets elected to 2-year runs. But at the end of 12 years, they don’t get to come back. They can do whatever they like in any other office, public service or private, but they won’t serve in Congress again.
Some will argue that this would deprive Congress of long years of experience or that it interferes with the right of the people to decide their own representation. The same arguments would apply to the presidency yet we recognize the value of not allowing for a lifetime in office there. And I would counter that keeping someone from becoming a career member of Congress would reduce their inevitable slippage to being less responsive to the needs of the nation and their constituents and more responsive to the needs of their political party.
I would also throw in here that we should not be allowing members of Congress to gain lifetime pensions or permanent public benefits pursuant to their service as a member. They can receive the basically free healthcare while in office and any of the other perks but once they’re out, they relinquish those as well.
This would be the one to start with and I think we’d be better off getting this enacted sooner than later.