Lord Acton famously said, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Congress can’t pass many bills but they fit this one.
Some career politicians have long figured out that they can become rich with insider trading, which is still legal for their family members, and even richer when they leave office for big-buck jobs in the private sector as reward for political favors while in office.
Here’s a shining example of why long-term congress members can’t regulate themselves. Senator Dodd has struck millions since leaving office even though he said he wouldn’t. Now look at his top campaign contributors—the FIRE sectors: finance, insurance, and real estate. Maybe that’s how we had our hopes tanked by Dodd-Frank instead of having it all with Glass-Steagall. OpenSecrets.org has over $3,000,000,000 from corporations (for profit and non) going to the 1000 or so candidates during the 2012 election. Isn’t that proof enough that the two parties are beholden to moneyed interests?
Yet, we keep electing the red or blue candidates every two years with all the hoopla of the Super Bowl, no offense intended to the unfixed sport. We are being manipulated by behavioral psychology techniques like commitment, consistency, comparison, social proof, likeability, and it works because, well, we’re all just too busy to really do anything significant about it.
We are a country of 316,000,000 people. Why do we have a ruling class of 535 where only around a hundred cycle off every two years? There are essentially 400 people calling all the shots. And it’s not going so well. Let’s face it, there are more deflationary pressures worldwide than inflationary pressures.
The planet’s ever growing population means there are always people willing to accept less pay to get work to feed their families. The US is in the worldwide labor market—like it or not. Our U-6 unemployment is still around 15% almost six years after the popped housing market bubble—even with a fully recovered stock market. We need full employment from the private sector, the public sector, semi-public partnerships, rebuilding our infrastructure, or any combination thereof. The un-term-limited duopoly dithers. In the meantime 15% of our nation’s productivity spoils daily. Is that anyway to run anything?
I won’t go further into economics, but one of the only ways to get fresh ideas and solutions into the Federal government is to term limit those who just won’t give up the corrupting power. I consider Term Limits the sixth most important electoral reform for an omnibus Constitutional Amendment. The first is the Right to a Fraud-Free Counted Vote through automatic voter registration and uniform election standards for federal elections. The second is to Ban Archaic Single Mark Ballots and institute non-false-dualistic Approval Voting. The third is Nationwide Redistricting to end the gerrymandering of safe districts. The fourth is to End the Legal Extortion and Bribery of Elected Officials by banning all corporate and union political contributions to or for, or against, elected officials, candidates, and political parties but not limit fully transparent free speech rights on issues. The fifth is to poetically Make Veterans Day Election Day for all the right reasons.
A number of readers have pointed out slightly different solutions to the issues in the above paragraph. And in many cases I agree, that taken out of the context of a “passable” Omnibus Electoral Reform Constitutional Amendment, those arguments are valid. However, here’s the rub, Congress won’t give up the corrupting power lightly. They want to keep the four major quadrants of political discourse; left, right, freedom, and order fighting amongst ourselves. Why? So we don’t realize that we can, perhaps already have amassed vast super-majority support for dramatic electoral reform.
National polls have overwhelming approval of federal term limits. They run between 70% and low 80%. An aGREATER.US poll of independents, conservatives, and liberals where their opinions are given equal weight has a 79% positive rating. But Congress just thumbs their noses at the We, the super-majority of the people. Why? Because they can. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Now, I know there are those who are not happy with term limits in California. This argument was presented to me—the newbie legislators were just led to the figurative special-interest slaughter by the lobbyists. But, that’s why Term Limits needs to be in an omnibus package preventing lobbyists from using money instead of words to win their arguments—valid or not. We’ll deal with the revolving door in this column sooner rather than later.
Are you in favor of reasonable national term limits if paired with campaign finance reform?