Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Term Limits - Not Such a Bad Idea
"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasure. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's great civilizations has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through the following sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependency, from dependency back to bondage." - (Alexander Tyler is given credit for writing this in regards to the fall of the Athenian Republic but snopes.com can't validate this. It really doesn't matter who wrote, the sentiment and caution is a good one)
For those of you that think America is a true democracy, let me correct you. We are a republic that operates under a representative democracy. Simply put, we don't vote on policy and law, we elect senators and representatives to represent us in Washington and vote "on our behalf." So those of us that voted for them are represented and the rest of us are SOL Don't believe me, look it up. So I guess that's not really a representative democracy either.
Here's the problem with that. There aren't any term limits for Senators and Representatives. Why is that when the office of the president now has a two term limit, it isn't deemed necessary for our other elected officials? Whatever happened to the concept of public service? I'm sure many of them go in with the best of intentions but it seems like after term one or two they start enjoying the power they have and they make votes based on what they feel like making rather than how their constituents would prefer they vote. They could impose term limits on themselves, but they'd have to vote on it and why would anyone vote themselves out of a job? Hence where voting for themselves rather than with constituents' preferences. They vote themselves raises and all kinds of benefits. Why not? If I could vote myself a raise I certainly would.
And this is why we have complacency in this country for how our country is run. The power should be in the hands of the people not in the government. People think they can't change things so they don't educate themselves about candidates, don't bother to vote, or just vote for the name they know. What good does that do? We could essentially kick these people out of office and yet we don't. We keep electing the same ones over and over without bothering to check their voting record while in office. Not one of them ever seems to be held accountable unless they are caught in some "scandal." We have a responsibility to hold them accountable. Just like we have a responsibility to write or call them to voice our opinions to them.
I love how many politicians are "in favor" of term limits and then when that time comes they revise their position to "well if there was a bill to come up I'd vote for it, otherwise I can't do any good if I step down now." Well why haven't you written that bill?
If you limit the amount of time they are allowed to spend representing us there maybe they will actually stick to their original intentions rather than wasting their time trying to buy our votes every election. Which is another trick they get involved in. They will vote a certain way in an attempt to essentially buy votes with your tax dollars. Why do we let them do this? Again, term limits might help put a stop to this practice.