Saturday, January 18, 2014

Term Limits - A Step Toward Replacing Politicians with Statesmen and Stateswomen

What would you say if we could begin now a process of replacing our current crops of legislative and executive "politicians" with "Statesmen" and "Stateswomen" when we elect future government leaders? Our founders in 1776 and 1787 certainly seemed to be more of the latter type individuals. So why can't we redesign things to attract more Statesmen and Statewomen (and fewer "career politicians") to Congress, the White House and our state offices once more?

It seems that we would be better off if it could be made far more appealing for people from all walks and careers to run for these offices. Wouldn't we be better off if these offices were occupied more by people who are willing to sacrifice a part of their lives for the rest of us?  Wouldn't there be infinitely more new ideas considered if we had fewer lawyers and career politicians, and many more doctors, engineers, business types, teachers, accountants and others in those offices?

Here is a way to do this:

1) Change each Representative and the President's terms to four years and six years respective
ly (while leaving a Senator's term at six years).  Then institute a limit of one term with the proviso that each must pass a "vote of confidence" by their constituents at least every second year of that term.

These "votes of confidence" would not include an opposing candidate.  But - if the officeholder failed to obtain a majority from those they represent who vote at that time - the previously-elected "next-in-line" would immediately take their place in the office they had occupied.

In like fashion, each existing Representative and Senator in a "leadership" position would also have to pass a "vote of confidence" from all of us, or step back to a "non-leadership" seat and have their peers select a different member for that position.

2) Reimburse these new one-term officials in a way that will both allow and encourage individuals from many more vocations (e.g. - doctors, engineers, business types, teachers and accountants) to take time off from their chosen career or business for one term of service to their country. Pay them more nearly like some CEO's (i.e. - those whose directors use common sense in this area) in today's business world, but more importantly set them up with a great pension that immediately follows a term of honorable service.

3) Affix to these elected officials a "fiduciary" responsibility for the homeland's safety, security and defense; its citizens' opportunities; and the finances of the nation. Then set up a consistent system to judge - after they leave office - how they did, and award their "pensions" in "2" above accordingly.  (Read more on this - including what they would be judged on - in Shortening Our Leash On Politicians, pages 79 - 82.)

These changes would accomplish several badly needed objectives without limiting the abilities of our officeholders to do the job we ask of them.

(a) The limit of one term would mean no more overwhelming pressure to begin working for reelection from the first day in office.

(b) Having more individuals in office for shorter intervals would go far to reduce the influence of high-paid lobbyists and entrenched bureaucrats on these public officials.  With far less time for building close "relationships" and/or granting inappropriate favors and (with officeholders who will want a "good grade" at term's end), these "deep-pocket" forces should have a much harder time turning the voters' representatives into "yesmen" for the special-interest groups who pay for their services.

(c) Of special importance, there would far less entrenched "leadership" ready to assign the "plum" committee and party jobs only to those they "know" and "trust" leaving the incoming freshmen (who we elected on a par with those "leaders") to have to wait and "earn" the more responsible roles.

(d) With additional vocations and life-experiences in our legislatures and executive offices, many more fresh ideas for solutions that benefit our nation would emerge.

Finally, this should be an effective way of bringing back into effect one of this nation's long and distinguishing traits.  That trait has been the unselfish willingness of so many of its citizens to temporarily interrupt their lives to serve their country - particularly in its military branches - even at the cost of real personal and family sacrifice.  Today, it seems too many of us are not so willing - or want others to think we are "serving" even as our careers are being advanced and little or no real sacrifice is involved.

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