Friday, July 15, 2011

Are career politicians ruining our democracy?

I've been doing a lot of thinking about this debt ceiling crap going on in Washington. (And no, there is no limit to the things that interest me! Politics. Quantum Physics. Constitutional law. Quilting. Knitting. I'm never bored.) I guess I'm thinking about it so much because I watch so many political commentary shows.

The debate about the debt ceiling has magnified congressional ridiculousness. We cannot afford this pettiness. Imagine what the collapse of the US economy would do to world markets. If you thought your 401K/investments looked bad in 2008, imagine what they'll look like if our politicians don't get on with the people's business. Why now? Why pick this fight now when raising the debt ceiling has been pretty much a no-brainer for years? I mean, it's not like we can say "Nevermind. We're not gonna pay our debts." If Congress really has some desire to get spending under control, then go ahead & raise the debt ceiling then get on with the business of cutting spending. (Actually do the people's business - what a concept!!).

It's all due to career politicians, I think. I know our process is broken. Our democracy has turned into a risky game of "king of the hill". It no longer matters what's right for the country, or what a person's ideology is: if the other party said it, it must be bad (even if it was a good idea 6 months ago). I don't know the cure, but I have some ideas. OK maybe one idea. Term limits.

If you really listen to what our politicians are saying - and I mean really listen - you'll always end up hearing "I'm doing what I have to do to get reelected". Hmm. I'm voting for these folks to do what is best for our country. If they've lost the courage to make the tough decisions, they aren't doing me any good by being my representative. Imagine if they didn't have to think about being re-elected. Oh, there would be some down-sides for sure but I do think the positives would far outweigh the negatives.

If our politicians weren't concerned about being re-elected, maybe they would learn to compromise again. Isn't that what governing is all about? We're pretty much a split country (Democratic, Republican), so why should any one party get all the decisions? When I hear any congressperson say "the American people want this", I wonder which "American people"? Which half wants this? Our two party system used to serve us well when the politicians would actually agree to compromise. (Ever studied the stories of the the writing of our Constitution? Talk about a lot of compromise!!!!) If we limited everyone to one six-year term, we'd eliminate the root cause of a lot of the problems in Washington today.

Imagine campaigns where huge corporations couldn't buy the election. Imagine our candidates not being indebted to those corporations. Imagine the Congress actually doing the business of the people instead of jostling for camera time which will translate to campaign dollars. Our Constitution was put in place so we would not elect kings (and queens), but unlimited terms and unlimited money seem to be doing just that.

I wrote to my congressfolk to express my frustration with their antics. You should do the same. Here's a link for you to easily email any of your elected representatives: email my rep
If you're interested in starting a drive to implement term limits, leave me a comment or email me. I'd be willing to lead the charge!

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