When the Framers of the Constitution determined that elected representatives should be allowed to serve consecutive terms in office, they couldn’t have foreseen anything like the multi-year, multi-million dollar campaigns of the twenty-first century.
Given the current size of our country and the cost of airtime, any incumbent who hopes to be reelected has no choice other than to spend a large percentage of her time in office raising money for her next campaign.
Furthermore, since politicians have an ongoing need for campaign funds to ensure their continued employment, they have to keep their campaign contributors happy. This encourages earmarks and other shenanigans that are contributing to the bankruptcy of this country.
This could be easily remedied! I propose a Constitutional amendment prohibiting elected officials from serving consecutive terms in office. Ever!
Could they serve more than one term? Absolutely. But after serving a full term, an official would be required to take a hiatus for the same number of years he has served in office before being eligible to serve in any office. In a span of 24 years, a person could have six terms in Congress, two in the Senate, or three as president.
One of the benefits of this arrangement would be that only private citizens would be running for office. No one would have the “incumbent’s advantage” that makes re-election almost a sure thing for many, if not most, elected officials.
Half the seats of the House of the House of Representatives would open up each year, and only private citizens, i.e., people who have spend at least the previous two years doing something else, could fill them.
In a way, this would be similar to a parliamentary system, in which elected officials are subject to votes of confidence rather than automatic re-election. I suspect Senators’ and Representative’ votes would be much more representative of their respective districts than they are now. An elected official who planned to run for a second term two years after leaving office would have to be better be on pretty good terms with his electorate, as he would need to be re-nominated and then re-elected. His opponent would be a private citizen from the other party. We might actually hear meaningful debate, as both candidates would be outsiders fighting to get back in.
Roger Schlesinger's Mortgage Minute is heard on hundreds of radio stations and daily on the Hugh Hewitt radio show and Michael Medved shows. Roger interacts with his hosts and explores the complicated financial markets in order to enlighten his listeners and direct them along their own unique road to financial freedom.
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