I find a big problem with modern politics is the short terms our elected officials serve. Some argue that this keeps them relatively honest…knowing that they need to get reelected soon ensures they are aware of the stands they take. Others argue that the length of terms inhibit political functioning because they must start campaigning, receiving contributions, etc, shortly after office.
I am for the latter view, frankly. What’s the boards’ opinion on lengthening terms? For the president I feel that a decade is reasonable. House Reps, IIRC, serve two-year terms? I find that to be WAY too short. Perhaps up this to 5? Senate members get picked, what? Four years? Six? Goodness, I’ve never took much of an interest in these things, but now I’m intrigued.
So, is what we have now too short? How long is too long? Is it completely unreasonable to elect a lifer president? Would such an act create more stability, less stability, etc?
Arg. Hmmmm…perhaps a MIX of term lengths might be nice. Hmmm…we could have some people elected every two years so that they essentially serve at the whim of the electorate. And, let’s see, how about another group that serves for 6 years so that they have lots of time between re-elections and can take a longer view. And, well, how about we appoint some sort of review board that can curb the excesses of those guys…let’s give them limited power to void awful laws, but give them a lifetime appointment. And how about a chief executive who serves for four years, midway between the two legislative branches. Wow! That sounds MUCH more fair than the system we have now…doesn’t it?..
Well, the president has alot of power. Therefore the system is designed to remove most of his power so nothing can happen. America was made to be bogged down with buracracy so it wouldent affect normal people too much.
I agree that there is something to this argument but I think it overlooks an important point. This is how things currently work but if we are going to reform the system anyway, why not just eliminate the inhibition directly?
If we bar politicians from soliciting contributions and disallow campaigning ( ie- spending campaign dollars ) more than six weeks before an election then our pols would have more time to govern than they have today or under your scheme.
OK, seriously, there is a big problem with lifetime appointments. In America, political power resides in the people, meaning that all officeholders are ultimately accountable to the people. Even appointed positions like judges or cabinet members are indirectly accountable because they are appointed by elected officials and can be impeached by elected officials.
If we simply look at other countries, we see that lifetime dictators tend to have a poor record. Even if we grant that sometimes a dictator can accomplish things that a democracy cannot, what do you do once the dictator has outlived his purpose? No. Elected officials must be accountable, and the way we hold them accountable is to force them to run for re-election periodically. Any other system gives them power but no responsibility. Having to get elected sure can interfere with doing your job. I bet at your job your boss has some mechanism for making sure that you do your job and I bet it interferes with you doing your job.
Somehow I doubt that many people are going to agree that our government needs more power and less accountability.
More power? Not a chance. My point is in stability. Because elections are staggared between the house, the senate, and the president (though they coincide here and there) our government is pretty shifty. The case was made that this promotes only the important laws and the stagnation of excessive beauracracy protects citizens. That is interesting.
Electing a lifer is no doubt extreme, but the Supreme Court Judges are appointed lifers. That doesn’t mean they can’t get their asses kicked off the bench. Similarly, members of congress and the president are held accountable for their actions, not just by re-election.
I am NOT one to ever support a stronger government, but a weaker one. What I would like to see, however, is more stability. In a time where government plans are more reaching than ever before, and don’t show signs if letting up, that more stability in seating would help, not hinder us. Just an opinion.
Society is very shifty. Fine; let that choose fasions, not government.
Yes, but the reality is that most incumbent legislators are returned. House seats in “safe” districts usually only turn over upon death or retirement of the incumbent. And six years really is quite a long time for Senators. What’s wrong with have some long term offices and some short term ones? We can therefore theoritically have the benefits of both stability and accountability.
I’d be for the proposal if I looked around and saw systems with longer terms resulting in better government.
The Presidente of Mexico serves seven years, and can’t be re-elected. Is Mexico run any better than the United States?
Prime Ministers in England serve for five years (or fewer if they call elections earlier). Does Great Britain work any better?
Identify a country with a chief executive who answers to the people at significantly less-frequent intervals, and explain how they are better governed, and we might be able to accept the remedy as worth while to avoid the evil of which you complain.
One thought: how about having a referendum after four years on the President. If he does not receive the majority of votes (legal votes, including hanging but not dimpled chads… ooops, sorry, hangover), then we have an election to replace him.
One note: you can’t restrict campaigning because you are violating the First Amendment if you do. You can’t significantly restrict spending on campaigns without the same constitutional infirmity; the ability to be heard is an important part of the right to be heard. And you can’t significantly restrict the right to make a contribution, without another constitutional problem; the ability to have your opinion voiced by paying someone else to ‘publish’ it is another example of our right to speak freely.
Indeed, I see no way of effective curbs on campaign finance. Neither do I see any way of effectively goading politicians into fairness and attention to productivity on real issues. The media control what issues are important. Politicians play up to the issues that the media and news outlets will pick up for coverage, and these are often the less important of what needs to get done. Now, we know the media wouldn’t pay attention to these less important items if voters didn’t watch the shows and buy the newspapers that ran these stories.
The solution to political reform, then, remains the same: an active and informed voting populace.
I’m not sure where you are coming from, aynrandlover. Are you looking for longer terms so that pols will take a longer view or do you just want them to have more time to work on legislation?
One note: you can’t change the length of terms of Congresspeople because you are violating the First Article of the Constitution if you do. You can’t extend the term of the President without a similar constitutional infirmity; the opportunity to vote for the President is an important part of the right to vote for the President, for the Electors at least.
( The previous jab at the good squire, while pointed, is offered in good humor. While we disagree on political questions, DSYoungEsq’s posts in the the recent election threads have been a voice of reason and have significantly increased my respect for him. )
A little of both, actually. Government action has serious long-term effects. If a president enacts a plan like that in his third year of office or so, no one reaps the benefits until after the election. The next president rides the wave, so to speak.
Not only that, longer terms might make people more wary come elction time. I actually doubt this, however.
As well, sure the president has a lot of power (as someone further up mentioned) but that has nothing to do with time served. He can do something stupid no matter how long he’s in office. Having a pres serve longer terms might just let them know how to run a country (its gotta be differnt from being a senator or a governor, see?). The other side of the coin might be not to lengthen terms but to stop the two-term president; ie-let voters continue to vote a prez they like.
Oh, and you can change the constitution, which would change the lengths of terms
I’m not a huge fan of this idea, but I think it has its merits, possibly more so than our current system. Just a thought, you won’t see me with a petition
Oh, and, so what if there are other countries who’s elected serve longer terms but they arne’t any “better” than the US? How could they be? Their entire economic structure is different. Our country’s success is, in a large part, due to our agressive businessmen…the government’s jus’ got their backs.
How about taking a lesson from baseball? When a pitcher is taken out of the game, he’s still responsible for any runners he put on base. The reliever’s ERA isn’t affected except by any new batters he faces making it around. (Apologies to baseball purists for the rules simplification. The general point is valid.) If politicians were “scored,” then the effects of any legislation enacted during the last part of their term would be conferred to them instead of to the successor who simply, as you say, rides the wave.
:spoken with tongue mostly, but not entirely, in cheek:
I am so ashamed. I haven’t sent our agressive business men a Christmas card! I must instruct Tiny Tim to include them in his bedtime prayers! “…and God bless our business men, who provide so selflessly for our well-being…” There they are, bending into taxicabs, sloggin thier way across gigantic lobby rugs, slaving long into the afternoon, and all for us!
Do they have an established fund, like UNICEF? Some place I could mail a small token of my regard?
Yeah, that’s witty. The truth IS that american business practice contributed in a large part to our success as a nation. Other factors are our land mass, or distance from enemies, and so on. I’m not saying that businessmen are solely responsible, but they shouldered a lot of the effort of our nation’s development. Other countries which have more stringent economies are not as quick to invite businessmen and industry there. Or hadn’t you noticed that constant war isn’t good for the productive growth of mankind? You contribute to them by taking the jobs they create. They probably don’t want a Christmas card, either, but what the hell? “Thanks for making this the wealthiest nation on earth.” Wouldn’t hurt
Cervaise, if you take your tongue out of your cheek I might get that better In a two-hour or so baseball game it is much easier to attribute action to actor. In a governmental system plans are being enacted all the time with a varied degree of “reach.” Because the government effects the economy in so many ways its hard to necessarily attribute one effect to which cause.
Take right now for example. Is our nation’s success basd on the huge investment the government made in people 30 years ago (which led to enormous inflation), to the deficit spending 20 years ago, or to Clinton’s economic eyes? Was it all the colleges, high scools, and roads built that led to such growth, or was it a more simple plan? Was it the plugging of tax loops that got rid of dishonest businessmen or did they just find new work somewhere else? There are so many things the government does all the time to try and keep everything rolling it is, IMO, very hard to attribute it to a president here or there. But clearly there were some presidents that did more than others. The ability to keep those guys in office longer is tempting.
Anyway. It is still my contention that a more stable government occupancy-wise would lead to better growth. It could also lead to less contribution scams and bs lobbying, but it might lead to more as well. I dunno. Hard to say.
You are jumping around a bit with these ideas. Providing our representatives a way to have more time actually doing their job rather than just keeping it seems a worthy task to me; however, I agree with the others that putting the pols farther from voter reprisals isn’t a good idea.
I would like to see the 2term limit on the Presidency lifted.
If most people trust the guy, let him stay in office.
( Even if he is Ronald Reagan :o )