To say that money is everything in politics isn’t an overstatement. Just try to find a politician’s website currently running for election without a plea for donations. Over a billion dollars will be spent on the presidential elections alone this year (great resource here).
Whenever a politician walks on stage to give a speech with some background music I only hear one song: The O’Jays – For The Love Of Money
NPR’s Planet Money did a story this spring that profiles how much time our beltway politicians spend raising money. It’s gross.
The time and effort that goes to getting these people reelected is sickening. And in the House they never get close to a break since they have to run every 2 years. This is the biggest problem in politics today. Our elected officials speak for their donors, not their constituents.
How can we fix this? We could eliminate all fundraising and instead allow the government to fund campaigns fairly. Or we could limit the amount they can raise to some kind of cap. But that wouldn’t work out in practice. The better campaigner would still win regardless of these rules.
Instead of looking at money as the problem and trying to control its factor in an election, why not simply remove the problem from the equation? It’s not that money itself is the problem, it’s the constant search for money and fundraising that is. And why do politicians have to keep fundraising? To get reelected.
Even though our Congress effectively did nothing over the last 2 years incumbents will ask you to give them money so they can go back to Washington and call you to give them money again. The focus is on getting reelected, but when does anyone actually try to accomplish anything.
In Congress, in order to be a success all you have to do is last longer than the opposition. There is no time limit for a high ranking Senator or Congressperson. For a president, that is another matter. Even with 8 years, they’re crunched for time. Because presidents have term limits.
And there’s your real solution. We need term limits for Congress. If a Senator can only serve for a limited period of time then they know they only have a short window to make an impact. Look at Senators Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid. Each have served since the 80s. McConnell has been the turkey-necked Republican who spouted job creating BS for the past two years without even understanding what he’s saying He does what he’s told. Harry Reid has been an incredibly weak Majority leader for Democrats and has been bullied around by the GOP controlled House and probably sir turkey-neck too.
It’s time for both of these guys to go.
Without term limits these old farts just do what their party tells them. More than one member of the Republican Congress has said publicly their primary focus is getting Obama out of the White House Assuming they’ve been doing that since 2008 then we’ll pay McConnell $800k to do nothing. And if you’re a good little soldier then your party will make sure you get reelected. So then with one of their own in the Oval Office they can supposedly pass the policies they support. Term limits will force Congress to work together. Without them no one is in any rush to try to get anything done.
So what do the term limits look like? We’ll get there tomorrow. As much as we’d like to take money out of politics it’s just not feasible. We can change the way they raise and spend money but ultimately our system was built on this freedom and taking it away outright won’t work. We have to take away their need to constantly be raising money.