Term Limits: A Real Political Revolution

I love politics.  Not the politics as seen on TV, which is just the propaganda and the hype.  I love the idea that we can elect people to represent us and work to make our society better for all.  I have seen government protect people from pollution, monopolies and disease.  I have seen it fund infrastructure and public safety projects.  I understand why a majority of people today are upset with government corruption, unbalanced budgets and laws that are not fair to everyone.  In a weird way, it even makes sense that Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders got the most press during the primary season.  They both attacked the way Washington does business and Americans want real change.  I know I do.

Trump mostly talked about himself and who he hates.  Bernie talked about leading a revolution.  I prefer revolution to hate.  But this isn’t about who I prefer for president (none of the above).  It’s about taking government out of the pocket of big money interests and holding politicians accountable for their promises.  By enacting term limits on all political offices, we can end the era of career politicians.

The founding fathers never foresaw that people would serve in Congress and then spend the rest of their lives seeking reelection.  America was founded by people who were suspicious and mistrustful of a wealthy ruling class.  It was our revolution: “…of the people, by the people, for the people.”  Ratifying the Constitution took twelve years because the representatives fought for controls that would protect their individual states from an over-reaching federal government.  They also fought to ensure the separation of church and state and the even distribution of powers among the President, the Supreme Court and Congress.  Then they went home and got back to their own business.  They were respected in their communities because they had sacrificed their own interests and put the welfare of the country first.

A President can only serve two terms of four years.  When George Washington retired after two terms, he set that standard.  Yes FDR was elected to a fourth term in 1944 but that was largely because the Allies had begun to turn the tide in the war against Nazi Germany.  FDR was wildly popular among average citizens recovering from the Great Depression and eager to win a war against dictators in Germany, Italy and Japan.  Big business hated FDR’s New Deal programs and decried the creation of a “welfare state.”  No President since then has sought a third term.

Presidents nominate candidates for the Supreme Court and Congress holds hearings to approve them.  Justices hold office for life so their honesty, impartiality and intelligence must be beyond reproach.  Many argue that nominating Supreme Court justices may be a President’s greatest power but no nominee goes to the bench without approval by Congress.  Informed and engaged citizens would voice their opinions to their congressmen and senators and help ensure confirmation of justices who would protect their rights.  But Congress seems to represent their political parties more so than they represent their constituents.  And too many of our citizens are woefully uninformed and not engaged.

Big business and their lobbyists are to blame.  The money they pour into reelection campaigns and sponsorship of bills has created a wealthy ruling class: Congress.  The time for a new revolution has arrived.  Big money isn’t going to go away.  But if we make the career politicians go away, perhaps Congress can once again be the voice of citizens beyond investors and shareholders.

Trump and Sanders both got it right.  People are ready for change.  Matt Taibi of Rolling Stone summed it brilliantly in his article “Appetite for Destruction” (RS1267, 8/11/16).

“Trump was always just smart enough to see that the same money backs the Jeb Bushes and Hillary Clintons of the world.  But he never had the vision or the empathy to understand, beyond the level of a punchline, the frustrations linking disenfranchised voters on both the left and right.

Presented with a rare opportunity to explain how the two parties stoke divisions on social issues to keep working people from realizing their shared economic dilemmas, Trump backed down.  Even if he didn’t believe it, he could have turned such truths into effective campaign rhetoric.  But such great themes are beyond hid pampered, D-minus mind.  Instead, he tried to poach Sanders voters simply by chanting Bernie’s name like a magic word.”

Money and those who sling it that have the ears of Congress and the President.  They don’t care if we’re angry as long as we keep lining up at the same feeding troughs.

Trump will go back to reality TV soon and Bernie will return to the Senate; that’s exactly what America needs right now.  Senator Sanders can lead the revolution by introducing term-limits legislation.  Citizens can lobby their representatives to vote for it or promise to vote them out of office.  In eight to twelve years, America could have representatives who go to Washington to fight for the issues that concern them, not to cuddle up to big money and spend their days opposing the other political party and seeking reelection.

Members of Congress are supposed to represent their constituents and the issues that concern them.  Security, health care, education, immigration, infrastructure and the economy: these are the concerns of the people.  In our capitalist nation, they are also big businesses.  Do we need better bombs or better schools?  Should medicines only be available to those who can afford them?  Will the internet mean we don’t needs roads or cities anymore?  Is the tax code fair?  Can these issues be debated fairly by a Congress who listens to business more than the voters at home?  Everyone says no.

Our representatives should be the experts in these fields who are willing to suspend their careers for six to eight years and go to Washington.  Their goals shouldn’t be becoming politicians.  Their goals should be issue specific to their states and good for America as a whole.  A safe, healthy, prosperous America is good for the world.

The President is our chief diplomat and public symbol of our values and resolve.  They come and go with election cycles.  The Supreme Court justices write and uphold our laws.  But as long as there are lawyers, those justices will have to justify every decision and prepare to be challenged.  It’s Congress that needs accountability.  No more career politicians: it’s been my rallying cry for quite a while.

If you’re still reading, have a few laughs as a reward.  George Carlin knew us best. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYIC0eZYEtI

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