May 22, 2007

A New Call For Citizen Legislators

My good friend Mark Tapscott calls for a return to the term-limit revolution in his new Examiner editorial today. He sees a citizen legislature as the only solution for the pork-barrel politics used by today's politicians to keep and wield power. A "transpartisan" coalition could effect that kind of radical change by harnessing the power of the Internet and forcing the change through the states to bypass Congress for a Constitutional amendment.

Can we afford to turn out all of Congress during wartime? And if we replace them, what happens to the balance of power in DC? Over at Heading Right, I take a look at the benefits and potential pitfalls of a citizen Congress -- and the difficulties in getting there at all.


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Comments (15)

Posted by brainy435 [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 22, 2007 9:08 AM

I would agree that term limits would reduce some of the corruption we face, but that really treats the symptoms and not the disease. The real problem is that the electorate is too complacent and keeps re-electing these retards. If you keep reelecting them no matter how bad they act, they will keep acting worse. Rewarding bad behavior and all that...

Posted by Labamigo | May 22, 2007 9:57 AM

No matter who is in congress, the citizenry, when it comes right down to it, has no power other than the power of the ballot box. Congress can do whatever it darn well pleases, and there is absolutely no redress until the next election.

Posted by Angry Dumbo | May 22, 2007 10:04 AM

Term limits would make lobbying that much more difficult as it would be difficult to establish long term relationships with powerful congressmen. Of course, we all know term limits will never happen. Save your keystrokes.

Posted by I.C. | May 22, 2007 10:08 AM

Term limits won't be enough, since money is the real problem. If you can buy someone for the long haul, you can just as easily "influence" his voting over a shorter time frame. In fact, it would be easier, since it wouldn't cost as much to keep him bought--no need for large yachts or legislator McMansions here.

The idea is correct--the phony partisan divide is a trap that keeps the people's business from ever reaching the committee stage--but you'd have to take the sound byte marketeering out of politics in order for this to work.

Mike Huckabee was asked recently whether he had any realistic chance of winning the nomination when he lagged so far behind in fundraising, to which he gave this amusingly naive reply:

If the presidency of the United States is for sale to the highest bidder, then that's a real danger to democracy...this is why we had a revolution all those years's taxation without representation.

Does anyone really think that an honest man without corporate support can win any public office at a level higher than the state legislature? (Even those races are getting out of the reach of men who haven't sold their souls to the company store.)

I don't cast aspersions on the morality of corporations here as a political statement, but simply as a fact of life. Power's first obligation is to preserve itself, whatever the cost. As a result, we're stuck with this ridiculous system where Republicans & Democrats demonize each other, nothing gets done (except the business of those who've bought their spokesmen in the "people's government") and we get sucked into believing that we have some sort of representative government.

Somebody needs to tell Mr. Huckabee that his horse got out of the barn a long time ago.

Then we should throw all the bums out and use the internet to govern ourselves. One IP, one vote.

Posted by RBMN | May 22, 2007 10:09 AM

If we had the kind of office-holders who would be willing to impose term limits on themselves, we wouldn't need term limits.

Rep. Trancredo, for example, was a big proponent of term limits at one time, until he got to Congress. Now he has a new populist issue to push--one that doesn't involve him having to find new work.

When they get there, they all realize how "indispensable" they are. That's why term limits will never happen.

Posted by Carol Herman | May 22, 2007 10:14 AM

Term limits. Just another failed policy.

It was screamed in the 1980's, because the GOP wanted to reach majority status, in house and senate.

Byrd's still there. So some states know the trick. Heck, murtha's still there. Some districts also know the trick.

While Newt Gingrich, who yelled the loudest about term limits, got the boot from the voters. Worth remember the lessons that the GOP seems to scream "white stuff." Which now has a history. So a lot of people just get angry at the "calls."

It's no way to get back into the majority, either.

While Bush, who isn't using any playbook not approved by Riyadh, just did figure out that Ted Kennedy and John McCain are POISON IN POLITICS.

It's just a question who many blows McCain can land on Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, and Guiliani.

My guess? Anyone in politics who doesn't expect to get punched, and can't handle it when he's smacked in the jaw, ain't gonna make it to the heavyweight championship bout.

So? It's all just an annoyance.

Old labels don't suffice. Going back and taking out the things that once brought ya fame and fortune, is like an old lady putting on her wedding dress. Sure, there are some old ladies who've remained thin. The dress just doesn't do a thing for them, or their figure, though.

As to Congress; that's the place where one critter nearly brained another critter with his cane. How long ago? More than 150 years ago.

There was once a time in the USA, everyone knew history. Because to become a citizen you had to pass a test. In English. About events that have happened, here.

Meanwhile, the subject's good enough, lots of people keep up with the past, anyway.

And, the GOP? Still can't get up in the morning to beat the Ma and Pa Kettle Show.

Can't win this war if your tactics are lame.

While whom do you think, here, carries an advantage? I'll bet Fred Thompson. He doesn't have to do "spots" when his opponents are crashing his gate. He can do them when he wants to do them. Because when he comes out, again, people will laugh.

McCain's in free-fall. Bush? He's down and he can't get up. Congress and the "illegal" issue? They want to forget about what happened. Because every single community in America erupted. While the critters? Thought only about white men.

Nope. This issue hurts even in the Mexican communities; who are under the most pressure. Do you know why? The bad guys came in from Mexico; and they threaten good citizens. They're what makes up the gangs. Not what's picking your fruit trees.

By the way, in this country, nobody is angry at our troops, to the point the Ma and Pa Kettle Show has any advantages. What's missing? Your driver. Bush won't go anyplace where he can't earn his commission check from Riyadh.

The one best advantage? Bush is now scared that he's fighting for last place with Jimmy Carter. It may make James Baker less obvious, ahead.

Posted by Anthony (Los Angeles) | May 22, 2007 10:15 AM

Term limits wouldn't fix the problem, which is really a lack of ethics, transparency, and too-easy access to too much easy money. Term limits wouldn't change any of that: it would just change the players more frequently.

I also dislike term limits because they mean a periodic loss of institutional memory, which is important in any organization.

Also, is Tapscott proposing the states call a constitutional convention? Yeah, I should read the article, first, but, if true, he's opening one heck of a can of worms there. There are no limits on what a convention can do.

Posted by Carol Herman | May 22, 2007 10:50 AM

Even if you check the Forbes 500 list; you'd see saints do not show up there, either!

They're not in hollywood. They're not in banks. And, they're so unique, they couldn't even get men like Carville and Begala to adopt them.

So, enough with this garbage that you need "pure." You can't help yourselves? Then shower with Ivory soap. That's as pure as you're gonna get. While it does nothing for ya, that other soaps don't do. But heck. You're into advertising labels.

This immigration thing; which was supposed to pass so fast your eyes wouldn't have glimpsed it. As it went into law. And, the parades for Memorial Day began.

Memorial Day is unique. It's the day all Americans leave for the summer. Won't pay attention to politics at all. (This will hold true even in the summer of 2008.)

You come out after Labor Day, though. And, things "gel."

Here? Ma and Pa Kettle were getting rammed by their own Blue Dogs. Just in case you don't know how dems get elected, they don't get elected on passing stuff cooked up by McCain and anybody else. Let alone Ted Kennedy!

What photo op was missing? Chappaquiddic Bridge.

But the bill's dead. Just the same.

Seems in DC when the hornet's nests burst forth; and Americans begin calling those dodo birds bad names; a lot of them wake up. And, start counting their "safe" districts. From the one's they couldn't even run in, to become dog catchers.

Stop promising angels. Really.

You've got a list of them now, that while they were going around the ring, they crashed into the wall. Livingston, Gringrich, DeLay, and Hastert. Alll had comfy seats. But it didn't last.

The GOP is still in "lesson learning mode." Which means a minority status. And, little hope for recovery in 2008.

For longer terms planning? Ya gotta get your religious nose out of other people's businesses.

Again, if you looked, you'd recognize Bush is in a downslide. FOR GOOD REASONS!

Even without him running again, he's there to impede the GOP. How so? Well, let's see? He goes to McCain. Who wraps legislative arms around Ted Kennedy.

Then? McCain goes APE. And, in his down fall, he's aiming to take out others. What pieces of paper are you holding up to your eyes, that you don't see this?

Now why would Bush play with McCain? Ah, who knows? But perhaps it's like men and the centerfold in Playboy? There are some bodies that just turn these guys on. And, they drool.

Perhaps you thought McCain and Bush were conservatives? Nope. Just masters of bull shit.

Let me remember the ways:

Read my lips.

Thousand points of light.

Compassionate conservative.

And, then there were the hires. Ashcroft. Tommy Thompson. ALberto Gonzales ... All the way back to Dan Quayle.

The Bush's LOVE seeing those eyeballs that look terrified when the cameras go on. "Like deer caught in the headlights."

Again, advantage Fred Thompson. He knows the difference between headlights and limelights.

Good luck to ya, if you think you're solving your problems, ahead, on some old and stupid slogans.

Posted by NRA Life Member | May 22, 2007 12:38 PM

We have had term limits in California for more than 10 years, so the turn over that was predicted has occurred. We got rid of malignant growths like Willie Brown, and replaced them with new malignant growths like Fabio Nunez. My conclusion is that term limits in and of themselves do not really change anything.

Too bad, it really seemed like good idea at the time.

Posted by doc | May 22, 2007 2:22 PM

Power corrupts, but Pork corrupts absolutely. Term limits would fail because many if not most would regard victory as their chance at that brass ring.

Posted by AnonymousDrivel | May 22, 2007 3:20 PM

RE: Anthony (Los Angeles) (May 22, 2007 10:15 AM)
I also dislike term limits because they mean a periodic loss of institutional memory, which is important in any organization.

I'm beginning to wonder if this is a bug rather than a feature. The institutional memory seems to be remembering all of the bad habits and forgetting or ignoring the good ones.

Professional politicians have replaced "men of the people" where very special interests, gerrymandering, and modern lifestyle has ensured that representatives can be anything but.

I'm less and less enthralled with the perpetual incumbency even if enabled by constituencies that, on the whole, do not partake in democracy to the degree necessary for healthy governance. So many feel disenchanted and powerless against the institutions that a general apathy has destroyed the incentives for action. Worse, the representative government keeps erecting barriers for change and openness, so the demarcation between electee and elector increasingly widens.

I used to reject outright term-limits under the assumption that the original Constitutional construction of a popular method of replacing electees was ideal. That's a naiveté that I no longer accept at face value. It once was great. Now, not so much. Democracy has evolved and sometimes it feels like we brush with tyranny. Our apathy, whether purely our own fault or enhanced by a distant elected class, continues to undermine the vision of our Fathers.

How sad.

Posted by R | May 22, 2007 5:56 PM

Term Limits, the sure way to further entrench the bureaucratic nightmare of Power to the Staffers oligarchies, as all-freshman Congress depends upon powermongring STAFFERS for their marching orders.

Sure way to send our Founding Fathers deeper into super-turbo spinning in their graves.

Posted by ForNow | May 22, 2007 6:38 PM

In NYC, the introduction of term limits resulted in the election of a bunch of leftists to the City Council.

The left is very interested in local government these days.

Posted by mrlynn | May 22, 2007 10:24 PM

ForNow: "The left is very interested in local government these days."

That's really a separate issue, but one that needs attention. Here in the Peoples Republic of Massachusetts, the Republican Party is practically extinct. Yes, we've had a few Republican governors, but there are few Republicans in the State House, and fewer still on the local hustings.

Term limits might help, by requiring more turnover, though if only the left puts up candidates, that's all we'll get.

FWIW, I favor:

Maximum 6 terms for the House of Representatives (12 years; that's plenty to develop expertise, yet not so many that the congressman won't need a real occupation).

Maximum 3 terms for the Senate (18 years; after that, time to move on to real work).

And maybe three terms for the President (12 years). Lame duckism begins at year 5 now, which is too soon.

/Mr Lynn

Posted by Karen [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 22, 2007 10:50 PM

Califonia placed term limits on its legislature a decade ago via citizen referendum. It was specifically tailored to get rid of Willie Brown, who was running that state into the ground. Mission accomplished. However, a very detrimental side affect came into play. The term limits are so short, that the idiots elected barely have time to find the restroom, let alone, move a rational agenda forward. What has replaced the lifers in the legislature are the lobbyists. Now that basically control that state. They write the bills, and get the votes. It is worse than ever.