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Saturday, December 1, 2012

On Participating in the Political Process and Term Limits

I was on Facebook today and I saw a link on a friends page for a petition to Congress.  The petition was to a page entitled "Congressional Reform Act of 2012" and listed several reforms that people want Congress to make.  I agree with some of the ideas, but some of the ideas are either bad or things that we can already do.

The main thing I like is holding Congress to the same laws as everyone else.  Currently, Congress does not have to follow all of the laws that they pass, which is frankly ridiculous.  There are proposals there to end Congressional pension and retirement plans, which is excessive to me.  So long as Congressmen and women pay into a retirement system, they should be able to keep it.  They should also pay into Social Security, but that falls under the first point above.  As for the healthcare idea, again, so long as they pay for it themselves, I see no issue with it.

The main argument I have with the proposal lies in two points.  First, the idea that Congressmen and women should be term-limited.  Honestly, I am not fond of mandatory term limits for anyone because I see it as a massive cop-out.  Too many people do not participate in the political process and then proceed to rip the people who participate or who are in the process to shreds.  Seriously, if you don't vote, sit down and shut the hell up.  By not voting, you have totally abdicated any rights to complain.  If everyone who complained about Congressmen/women voted; and voted against their Congressman/woman; then term limits would effectively be in place.  Making term limits mandatory is a way for people to complain about their Congressman/woman and not do anything about it.  Vote and participate in the process or don't and stay out of it.  Period!  I think that all term limits should be repealed and if people want to change things, they should actually participate in the process and vote.  If not, then they deserve whatever they get.

My second argument with the petition is the idea underlying it that the members of Congress were meant to be citizen legislators.  That may be true, but I've never seen the logic of it at all particularly given what we ask government to do today.  Is government too big and complicated?  Maybe.  But we do ask it to do a lot and therefore it will be big and complicated.  Should Congressmen/women be part-time legislators?  No.  On a state or local level that would work, but given how much we ask of the national government, it does not work at all.