Political Reform – Step One

A few years ago, I became frustrated with the bipartisan political system.  As I look at the political landscape today, I see failure after failure. Neither Republicans nor Democrats seem to have a handle on true public service. Both parties are involved in a power struggle that seems to have no end. They devote their resources and energy into demonizing one another and consolidating as much power as possible.

The concern I have is that our country will follow the pattern of history and slide into secondary – or worse – status on the world stage, perhaps even during the lives of my children. Of course, from a Biblical perspective, I know the world is rushing toward an end (and no, no one other than God has a clue when that might be). But that doesn’t mean we don’t have an obligation to be good stewards.

It’s easy to be critical when looking at politics these days, especially since there’s plenty of fodder with all the insane things politicians do in groups. Of course, there are still some folks out there tilting windmills, but they generally come in third in the election. Every now and then, one of them wins. Then the party machine goes into high gear to whip the new “idealist” into line.

So, I offer this suggestion as a starting point for discussion:

  1. Every elected official serves one term, and
  2. The length of that term is seven years.
    The Senate's side of the Capitol Building in DC.
    Image via Wikipedia

Seems sort of pointless, doesn’t it? Seems a bit scary, too, I’d bet. Let’s take a closer look.

If you have a seven-year term, I would hope the voters would look more seriously at the substance of the candidate. We have become a nation where campaigns are dominated by sound bites and photo ops.  If the term were seven years, wouldn’t you pay a little more attention to the character and substance of the candidate?

How does the party machine whip newly minted politicians in line? With threats about money and support. In the House of Representatives, the current two-year terms mean the members have to essentially begin their next campaign before they’re sworn in. Money and support become critical.

Of course, the fact they’re in campaign mode during virtually their entire term is, shall we say, a bit distracting? Ever wonder why so many Representatives miss vote after vote? They have to raise money and garner support.  They have to be visible for photo ops, and they have churn out sound bites.  This is only good for getting them elected, not for doing the jobs for which they were supposedly elected.

In addition to the term being seven years, I’m proposing there be only one term for every elected official.  This would again make it less about power and more about getting real work done. It would also minimize the danger we face from life-long politicians who are entrenched as power brokers.  I know this would lead to unfortunate results when we actually had a great leader in office, but, then again, he or she would have seven years.  And I believe such a person would still find some way to actually serve our country in the private sector in some sort of appointed role.

I’d also argue elected officials would be less prone to entanglements with “special interest” groups (and, yes, I know we lawyers supposedly fall into this category) since they would not need to worry about support for re-election.

So, I tried to keep this short and sweet. There are more pros.  There are, of course, some cons. I believe this sort of radical change is the type of thing we need to consider in order to protect our country, so I’m putting this out there for discussion and thought. What do you think? I’d really like to know.


One thought on “Political Reform – Step One

  1. Pingback: Political Reform – Step Three « random sententia

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