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Letter: Two Not So Modest Ideas to Improve Elections

Local resident Ken Glass writes in a letter to the editor that the current process of funding election campaigns creates an undeniable conflict of interest that could only be fixed by reforms — he's got two suggestions.

Editor:

I present an idea that I believe can help reduce the negative effects of money in politics: all elected positions be limited to one-term. The term would be sufficiently long (perhaps 6, 8 or 10 years) so as to ensure that the elected officials aren’t on the learning curve for most of their service.

This limit would apply to local, county, state and federal elected positions, though a phased approach beginning nationally and eventually including locally elected offices would be a big step forward.

What’s the point? To reduce the impact that donors have on officials, once elected. If there is no chance of re-election, by law, then there is reduced motivation to kowtow to one’s donors. Also, without the possibility of re-election, candidates would presumably be even more civic-minded than before (and less career politician minded).

Are there downsides? You bet. People who are great in their elected positions wouldn’t be able to stay more than one term – and there would still be lots of money flowing. Also, politicians could shift from one office to the next, with the help of the same donors that helped with their previous elections. However, I do believe the aforementioned positives outweigh these negatives. 

Is this realistic? Of course not – the currently elected politicians would be the ones required to begin the process to change the law – which simply won’t happen, as they’d be going against their own interests. Nevertheless, I write this proposal to encourage a debate on the concept and perhaps invite thinking that would result in other creative, more practical ways to address the problem.

As I finish, I’d also like to share an idea from a friend: To help reduce partisanship, demand, through legislation, that each and every district is 50/50 each time the congressional and state districts are drawn post-census. Realistically, if the odds of limiting all service to one term are negligible, then the odds of redistricting 50/50 are effectively zero.  

That said, it’s nice to dream, especially as another election season (thankfully) comes to a close.

(Signed)

Ken Glass

Jon H October 27, 2012 at 04:25 AM
Our system of government is designed to ensure grid lock. This is a feature, not a bug. I really fail to understand why the 'money in politics is bad' mantra that some (mostly on the left) cry about. You can say that it is because of special interests, however, my gut says that 90%+ of Americans belong to more than 1 group or more that could be considered a special interest of some sort. If anything I'd like to see the tax system reformed and smart rules on spending limits put into place so the politicians can't provide favors for votes.

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