Thursday, September 9, 2010

Career politician? No -- EXPERIENCED politician

A lot of talk this year has been about the importance of turnover in national offices.

You hear it from various campaign groups, as from candidates for office facing long-time incumbents. "He's a career politician," they'll often say, in a tone that leaves the listener with no doubt about how terrible a thing that really is.

In reality, our nation has no problem with career politicians. We may say that we oppose a person because they've been in office for a long while -- but that's usually in conjunction with opposing a person whose political views we may also find wrong.

Our founding fathers, in fact, had quite the debate themselves over term limits. When the Articles of Confederation were drafted, and subsequently put into place, they required each person holding office in the national Congress to relinquish their seat after serving one three-year term. They could only return to office following another three years, during which time another person would serve in their seat.

One founder, Benjamin Rush, who is often overlooked for his role in the foundation of our country, rejected the plan laid out by the Articles and suggested a new idea, a new vision of what a "career politician" might be:

"The custom of turning men out of power or office," he said "as soon as they are qualified for it, has been found to be as absurd in practice, as it is virtuous in speculation. It contradicts our habits and opinions in every other transaction of life. Do we dismiss a general -- a physician -- or even a domestic, as soon as they have acquired knowledge sufficient to be useful to us, for the sake of increasing the number of able generals -- skilful physicians -- and faithful servants? We do not. Government is a science; and can never be perfect in America, until we encourage men to devote not only three years, but their whole lives to it" (Emphasis added).

The founders eventually accepted his recommendation -- when the Constitution was written, it allowed representatives, senators, even the president, the right to continually run for office without term limits.

We should not remove our political leaders from office if they have served us well. If the people want to have the same person serving them, it is their right to elect, re-elect, and re-re-elect the same person to office for as long as they desire.

Yes, campaign rules must be changed in order to provide the common man (or woman) the right to challenge a powerful incumbent. But beyond that, all things being equal between the two (or more) candidates for office, the people should have the right to keep any incumbent in power should they want to continue doing so.

1 comment:

  1. I have vacillated on term limits, but tend to agree that voting someone out is often not the solution. The moneyed interests that supported that person simply start sending their bribes to the newcomers. No, what we need to do is eliminate the bribes. There's nothing wrong with "lobbying," it is lobbying with cash in hand that has created our economic turmoil.

    Nothing is going to change until we have public funding of campaigns. What is it about political bribes do we not understand? They BUY political spending, which leads to deficits and high taxes. They move money from the financing of education and police and firemen, to spending money on special interest projects.

    If politicians are going to be beholden to their funders, those funders should be the taxpayers. And at $5 per taxpayer per year it would be a bargain. Even at 100 times that. We MUST lobby our senators and representative to co-sponsor the bill at:

    Jack Lohman ...