*Correction* In the article below, I reference the Founding Fathers as having built the 8 year term limit or Presidents into the constitution. It was pointed out to me in a comment that the term limit was not begun as a constitutional amendment until 1947. Since it would be almost impossible to rewrite the first three paragraphs, I’m leaving them as is, but acknowledging the error up front, so readers are aware. My apologies for my error.
You know, if I could climb into a time machine, and go back to colonial days, the first thing I would do would be to collect the Founding Fathers all together in one place, and buy them all a Sam Adams while I regaled for hours about their brilliance in the way that they set up the government that has made us the envy of the world for 243 years.
And then I’d ask them one simple question. If there was one thing that worried the Founding Fathers more than any other, it was that no matter what kind of a system of government they set up, we’d once again find ourselves struggling under the yoke of an imperial ruler. And so, when it came to the President, like the replicants in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, they built a fail safe into the system, an eight year life span. The perfect solution to the perfect pain in the ass, pull the plug after eight years.
My question to the Founding Fathers would be, Why, if you were so worried about having us live under an imperial ruler after our life and death struggle, and take steps to ensure that we couldn’t end up with just another king by another name, did you not take the logical next step, and spare us from living under the yoke of a permanent class of temporal princes?
Sweet Jesus, you lived in a time when monarchies were the coin of the realm as far as governance was concerned. Well did you know that in many cases, it was the close advisers and high level functionaries of government that actually held sway, and set up self serving policies that they then foisted off on a persuadable monarch. How could you not take the steps to eliminate that possibility, by placing limits on the service of our legislators as well?
Look, Tom Steyer is not my first choice for the Democratic nomination for President, hell, he isn’t even my 11th. But Tom Steyer is 100% correct about one thing, the time is long past this country having term limits for all serving federal elected officials, and if the only way to do that is through a constitutional amendment, then so be it, and get cracking on it!
Public service was never meant to be a lifetime gig. As anybody who has ever volunteered for a worthy cause for an extended period of time well knows, putting the needs of others over your own is hard work, especially when the compensation doesn’t match the frustration and stress level. And elected officials are not lavishly paid. Public service was set up for civic minded people to get in, make a positive difference, and then go back to their lives. But instead, it has morphed into a lifelong ride on the gravy train of power, influence, and wealth.
The current freshman class of Democrats are the poster children for term limits. They campaigned on issues important to their voters, they got elected, and they went to Washington and started advocating for those issues, and if the rest of congress doesn’t like it, they can kiss their asses. Yes, Speaker Pelosi shied away from impeachment in part to help protect some of these members who came from traditionally Republican districts, but there was another factor. She got push back from members in those districts who weren’t elected to impeach Trump, and they weren’t going to blindly sign on if this wasn’t something their constituents wanted. And that’s political power.
But here’s the problem. These freshman Democrats aren’t the first ones to come to Washington with an honest eye towards changing the system, not by a long shot. They go to Washington, they carry their banner, and they fight the good fight. But nothing changes, because they’re in the minority. And no matter how hard they fight, eventually it becomes a job. They like the title, the office, the staff, and they honestly think they’re fighting for change. Change never comes, but they stay, because it’s what they do.
My personal suggestion? Make it equitable, limit Representatives to 6 two year terms, and limit Senators to 2 six year terms. I’ll leave it to minds much sharer than mine to determine whether a representative that has had 12 years in the House can run for Senate, but either Representatives or Senators should be allowed to run for President after their 12 years. But something has to change. Does anybody honestly believe that Yertl McTurtle would be able to have 100 House bills sitting in a desk drawer is about 1/2 of his caucus just got elected to deal with the issues some of those bills addressed?
This can be done., simply because we’ve already done it. The election of Trump awakened the slumbering giant of the voting public. People are sick of big money in politics? We elected ourselves representatives who declined to take big money donations, and instead left it up to their supporters to put them over the top. We can do it again. If the voters make it clear that they only want representatives and Senators that will vote for term limits, they’ll run. And they’ll win because it’s what people want. And it doesn’t have to be a partisan issue either. Go ahead, you tell me that there aren’t Republican voters out there that aren’t tired of seeing the same old schmucks face on billboards every two years, you know, the one who only shows up in the district at election time?
Tom Steyer is right. If 2017, 2018, and 2019 proved nothing else, it proved that when voters speak with one voice, they get results. When Democratic candidates stood for things Republican voters wanted too, they voted for Democrats when Republicans wouldn’t five it to them. If Democratic voters make a big enough stink about this, Republican voters may well start making a stink about it to their elected officials too. Politics is nothing more than an exercise in power, and the simple fact is that the ultimate power belongs the voters. We only lose when we forget that simple fact.
To know the future, look to the past. before the insanity of the 2020 election, relive the insanity of the 2016 GOP primary campaign, and the general election, to see how we got to where we are. Copies of President Evil, and the sequel, President Evil II, A Clodwork Orange are available as e-books on Amazon, at the links above. Catch up before the upcoming release of the third book in the trilogy, President Evil III: All The Presidents Fen