Reforms For Our Time

by Colonel Dan


The Cowboy Chronicle

July 2009  

Like you, I’ve watched the slow decline of American politics become a rapid decent into a progressive state of endless debt and corruption perpetuated by a politically elite ruling class.  We have professional shysters entrenching themselves in office for decades and spending us into bankruptcy while undermining freedom at every turn.  I wish I could be more positive but that’s just the truth about modern politics.   

I’ve been an observer of the American landscape and writing political commentary for years but I’ve never seen a mess like we have today.  We’re living in times when comprehensive reform is the only Rx and I’ll guarantee you one thing—that Rx won’t spring from those benefitting from the disease, it will only originate with “We the People!”  I know there are dozens of things we could suggest but let me focus on just two reforms that would help start us on the path to recovery—spending accountability and term limits…and it’s high time we demanded commitments for such change of all aspiring candidates.   

Line item votes—each add-on requires a publicized vote:  Congress is great at hiding pork in critical bills such as defense appropriations so they can spend billions on pet projects while generally hiding it from the public. One way to shine the light of truth on what they want to spend your money on would be to require a separate roll call vote for each proposed add-on line item within every bill.  Then after the vote but well before it’s signed into law, publicize the sponsor’s names, how every member voted and the cost of each add-on.  Just knowing the public spotlight would be shining on them might itself discourage many porky proposals.  But politicians have vehemently resisted any suggestion that directs the light of discloser on their cloakroom antics.  If they want money for studying fish dandruff, require them to bring it up separately and vote on it openly for the whole country to see.  Sadly, you’ll never witness this because quietly holding critical bills hostage until they get their earmark is a well-known method of hiding wasteful spending—a practice that’s resulted in unimaginable, generational debt. 

Term limits—one term only:  With no hope of re-election and therefore no need for raising re-election money, politicians couldn’t entrench themselves in power, corruption and influence peddling for life so we might be able to get some fresh and effective leadership for a change…maybe.  I’ve read that in 15 of the 15 states where term limits have been proposed it passed by a wide margin!  Seems people like the idea.  Who doesn’t like it—incumbents and lobbyists naturally.  Once someone is elected to Congress they have a tremendous advantage as well as incentive for staying in office.  They have numerous benefits over any challenger such as taxpayer funded full time staffers including attorneys, a hefty salary while running for re-election and expense accounts, franking privileges of $160k per year that allows them to send out thinly veiled campaign compost at taxpayer expense, access to the media that cost challengers millions and the power to grant future favors in exchange for campaign cash today.  The primary incentive for staying as long as possible is seniority; seniority = committee position = real power and big bucks for life.   Lobbyists oppose term limits because they’ve spent years and millions of dollars “cultivating their crop” of legislators.  Why would they support anything that required them to start over after every term?

What are some advantages to term limits?  It reduces the arrogant sense of entitlement and omnipotence while restoring a sense of reality in those that represent us.  It neutralizes the incumbent advantages noted above and hinders the growth of cronyism by limiting the time available for establishing empires of graft and corruption.  Will term limits completely prevent all shenanigans?  Nothing can do that but it will prevent entrenchment within the halls of power.  It also returns our form of representation to the original concept of a temporary, non-elite, non-ruling class government.

What are some of the arguments against term limits—mainly promoted by incumbents and lobbyists.  It limits freedom of choice.  Do they mean the freedom to choose the tactics employed in buying elections with those incumbent advantages and wielding their political power of mutual back scratching?  Another argument against term limits is it would negate the value of experience.  If they mean it will stifle the opportunity to establish long term channels of graft, corruption, irresponsible spending and liberty crushing legislation, then I’m all for it.  Another argument says it’s unconstitutional!  Now that’s a real kicker!  It sure is funny how the Constitution means something only when a potential threat to their personal seat of power arises.  Otherwise, our Constitution is but a living breathing document to be molded as their time and their circumstances require!

“But Colonel, those ideas would hobble Congressional work.”  Yep and what’s wrong with Americans taking action to rein in irresponsible government?

Bottom line; Legislators have clearly proven time after time and for years on end they can’t be trusted with the power of political office.  Line item votes and term limits are two ways we can help thwart perpetuating abuse of that power.


Just the view from my saddle…

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