Partisan politics aside, do you ever wonder how America climbed onboard this Hellbound Train, and why it seems so impossible to even slow it down, let alone stop it, with your vote every two years? I've written before about long-term leftist takeovers of education,culture and the courts, but we were designed as a constitutional republic with specific checks and balances that should allow some immediate course corrections if needed. So exactly why don't these seem to be working? How come our elected representatives don't represent anymore? Here's a few numbers that might shed some light:
11.0 12.9 98 92.8/67.3
The first is the average tenure of Representatives in the current (111th) Congress – in their 6th term
The second is the average tenure of Senators in the 111th – into their 3rd term
Ninety eight is the percentage of running incumbents reelected in 2000 – it's always 90%+++
Last is the percentage of all campaign funds raised by incumbents in 2000 and 67.3 is the percent of votes it bought.
See the pattern here? Once in Congress, never out. The only reason tenures are as low as they are is due to Congressmen moving to the Senate, and Senators to Cabinet positions, or either of them moving on to the Promised Land. Consider that Robert Byrd (D-WV) has served over 50 years in the Senate. He's 91 years old! My dear grandmother died last year at the age of 95. She was a woman of great integrity and common sense, but I didn't trust her to drive a car the last 10 years of her life, let alone run a country. No knock against experience and wisdom, but please- fifty freaking years??? The key number here is the amount of money incumbents are able to raise, and thereby overwhelm any potential opposition. I don't suppose that's by peddling their influence – must be their stellar records of accomplishment.
The whole charade of “free and open elections” is just that – nothing more than kabuki theater. The enactment of the 17th Amendment surely didn't help things in the Senate. Since they are no longer beholden to their state legislatures for reelection, they now cater to moneyed interests often far removed from their home states. At least House members have to stand for election every 2 years, but once established, enjoy the same powers of incumbency. Let's be honest. We're talking about 535 people out of a nation of 300 million – less than one one thousandth of a percent! Do you really think that they're the only ones in this country that can provide honest and effective representation?
The answer is simple – term limits - but getting there is not. It is obvious members will not voluntarily term limit themselves, so they must be forcibly retired. They are unlikely to propose a term limit amendment themselves, so two thirds of the states calling for a constitutional convention is the only option. It is open to interpretation that once called, the convention can be limited in what they propose. In the meantime, elect only those who will at least pledge to honor limited terms and work to implement them. Even if they renege, at least they paid some lip service to the idea. The other option is to recruit, encourage and elect fresh faces. If it means losing an Orrin Hatch (32 yrs in the Senate!) to get rid of a Teddy Kennedy (37 years) or John Kerry (25 years), it will be worth it. It's time for some young blood, and a swift kick in the arse to all those who are “old and in the way”!
Delegate Mike Watson, A great Legislator
4 years ago