Sunday, November 25, 2012

As It Stands: Congress: A rest home for old politicians

 By Dave Stancliff/For The Times-Standard
I’ve got an idea that could break the gridlock in Congress. Not immediately, but by the time the next elections roll around. We’re stuck with the current crew of ideology-driven drones and party-first clowns for now.
It’s never too soon to work on changing things however. The idea? Simple. Term limits. We’ve already settled that issue in regards to the presidency with the ratification of the 22nd amendment in February of 1951.        
Several attempts have been made to limit the number of terms Senators and Congressmen can hold office. Most attempts seek to limit the time in office to 12 years, which would limit Senators to 2 terms and House members to 6 terms.

As part of the Contract with America in 1994, House Republicans attempted to established 12-year terms limits for Congress. However, they failed to achieve the 2/3 majority required to pass such an amendment.
Whatever the role of the Contract, Republicans were elected to a majority of both houses of Congress for the first time since 1953, and several parts of the Contract were enacted. Some elements did not pass in Congress, while others were vetoed by, or substantially altered in negotiations with President Bill Clinton, who would later sarcastically refer to it as the "Contract on America.”
  I’ve always contended that having life-long members in Congress is detrimental to our system of government.
As of November 24, 2012, 66 of the current 100 members range in age from their early 60’s to their late 80s. Four senators are in their 80s, 24 are in their 70s,  and 38 are in their 60s.
Let’s face it, that’s a little “long in the teeth” to be actively introducing and voting on legislation. There’s no way they are as alert as a 50-year old member. I don’t care what anyone says. Talk about being rigid. Many of those old coots are mentally living in the 50s and don’t truly represent what Americans feel today.

In February of this year the senate soundly rejected the idea of term limits with a 24-75 vote. Sen. Jim DeMint’s (R-S.C.) amendment would have expressed the non-binding sense of the Senate that the Constitution to place limits on how long members of Congress can serve.
I’m not surprised. The members of Congress have a good deal and don’t want anything to change. The perks they get are seldom found outside of government. So it seems we’re stuck. Or, maybe not.
People have been going on about this term limit thing for decades with no progress. But the times, they are changing. We have the internet and social media like FaceBook and Twitter that can galvanize movements and generate change.

Up to now the American people have had their hands tied as the members of Congress protected themselves and made sure no one rocked the boat. The subject would come up, and they’d act like they were really considering it, but lo and behold, nothing was ever passed.
We’ve all heard about the Arab Spring, Occupy, and other social movements by people demanding change from their governments.

Social media has been a key in those changes. There’s no reason a groundswell movement involving millions of Americans couldn’t put these insulated lawmakers on notice.
We know they’re never going to fix the problem. They don’t see it as a problem. Dying on the job is what they all hope to do.
I would be remiss in not noting that these geezers keep getting re-elected. 
That’s the part I don’t get. How do people expect change to happen when the status quo in Congress is maintained? Don’t expect the mainstream media to take up this issue, as most of it is owned by one of the two ruling political parties.
Twelve years in office should be more than enough. I don’t have anything against a person’s age, but at some point in our lives we all need to retire and let young blood and fresh ideas take over.
   As It Stands, when you have a group of old timer’s hobbling down the halls of Congress it’s time to call it a rest home for politicians!


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