“And when they’ve given you their all
Some stagger and fall after all it’s not easy
Banging your heart against some mad buggers wall.” — Roger Waters
I was discussing the Pact Act with some folks on social media. Everyone has probably seen it because John Stewart attached whatever fame he has left to defending the veterans. He got into a pissing match with Ted Cruz and Pat Toomey and even took it to conservative media to burst through the conservative media bubble. Cruz and Toomey ultimately lost that game.
It was a fairly quick conversation in my world as well. Bullshit talking points were thrown out in the same way Cruz and Toomey did. It was a “Democrat budgeting trick” and it was snuck in to introduce “pork barrel spending unrelated to the veterans.” Nope and nope. So, the last thing my conservative classmate dove to was the need for term limits. That’s the problem, these bastards are just there too long.
The answer I gave him still stands. I don’t know if he or other conservatives ever read these, but this is just a more lengthy response to a common suggestion we sometimes hear from both sides . I told him we have term limits. They are called elections.
Of course, there are two problems that my answer fails to address. The first problem is that incumbents in general have a built in advantage. The second problem is it means that citizens have to do some work. The two party system is baked into our politics and there’s no going back now. Yet, the two party system is also easier for most people to navigate. It’s my team versus the opposing team. When I see the R and D by their name I know how to vote.
The procedural stuff is easy enough to fix. I’ve suggested it here before, but there are two basic fixes that would level the playing field. First, computers would draw congressional districts instead of the two parties. Current trends indicate that only about half of the 435 seats came from contested races. Those who advocate for the change define contested as within ten points on elections day. They estimate that over 350 races would become competitive (inside ten points) if they were moved to computer generated congressional districts.
The second fix is to publicly fund all general elections. Both parties get the same amount of money. So, you can be as dirty and slimy as you want to win your party’s nomination, but once you are the candidate you are on the same playing field.
Term limits sound wonderful. Hell, the Democrats are trying to propose term limits for the Supreme Court. So, it isn’t purely a conservative or liberal point of view. Yet, it is something I hear more from conservatives these days than liberals. That could be a function of where we live. A Democrat hasn’t help statewide office since Ann Richards was governor. The two senators representing the state have both been Republican since Lloyd Bentson stepped down to run for vice president. So, there haven’t been a ton of Democrats to rail against in Texas.
I suppose it is certainly possible that more blue states would have people that identify as Democrats advocating for term limits. I wouldn’t know because I’ve never voted in an election where Republicans didn’t have the upper hand. Assholes come in different genders, sizes, and political affiliations. This can be just as simple as reaching the realization that you are represented by an asshole and voting for someone else.
This of course launches us headlong into our second problem. People need to do their homework. It is a lot easier to simply take what a Ted Cruz or Pat Toomey does and digest it whole than to do the work necessary to pick it apart. In this case, the bill never changed, it doesn’t have pork in it, and there were no budgeting tricks introduced at the last minute. It quite literally was the same bill with one line removed. Yet, this is just one is just one relatively minor bill. It’s an overall symptom of a disease that has infected our body politic.
Even if we separate ourselves into our respective camps, we know very well that there are those within our own ranks that just assholes. We know this. Greg Abbott is a great example. Very few people really like him. Even fewer think he has done a good job. Yet, he will likely win because he has an R next to his name.
Somewhere in a blue state there is an asshole that has held statewide office far too long. What term limits do is free you from the responsibility of dealing with the assholes in your own flock. However, they also prevent a good public servant from continuing to serve even when a majority deems them as effective. The ballot box is still the most effective tool to limit the amount of time assholes can represent us. If you don’t like Ted Cruz then vote for someone else. If you don’t like Sheila Jackson Lee then vote for someone else.