There is a chronic problem with politics. It's the power of the incumbent. Once someone is elected to office, the chances of the candidate being unseated by a challenger decreases with each successful reelection. The consensus is, that this often leads to complacency, to laziness, and even to graft. Many state governments have therefore instituted laws that limit the length of time an official may serve.
Efforts at implementing these controls in D.C., however, have uniformly failed, with the exception of the Commander-In-Chief; he/she is limited to two terms. Not everyone is so sanguine about this movement. There is a certain skill that goes into public policy. The philosopher Burke noted that government has a learning curve, and that this education has real value.
Certainly neophyte congressmen and legislators need most of their first term just to learn the system; any real competency takes two or more terms. Louisiana is one of the states to have chosen to limit the years that elected officials may serve. This has caused a re-shuffling of anyone and everyone with long-term experience, and a lot of our hardest working representatives have lost elections, or have simply chosen to leave public service. So it appears that the only real experience left among the elected personnel, may be the UN-elected personnel, the bureaucrats and the hired representatives of special interest groups. Not exactly an improvement, that.
There is a second problem in the political landscape, however: left vs right, republican vs. democrat. It seems that everyone is trying so hard to win out over the other side, that no one is interested win-win solutions.
Beating the opponent has become more important than serving the majority. In the nasty fighting over bragging rights, it seems that the cooperative American spirit has been completely lost. So here's a suggestion that might address both problems: Extendable Term Limits.
When a candidate reaches the end of standard term limits, he/she may run again-- IF a consensus (private) vote of the body in which the candidate serves permits it. The first post-limit try, the candidate needs a simple majority. But every election after that, the required consensus increases by 3%. So first post-limit permission requires more than 50% of the concerned house; next time, more than 53%; then 56%, and so on. For the head of state, perhaps permission from both bodies would be required, based on the same concept.
The impact from this could be large. 'Good old boys' who cut self-serving deals-- and who are not above cutting a few corners in the process-- will quickly find themselves unable to stand for reelection. Those who choose to do the real work of democracy, cobbling together coalitions, and negotiating to identify consensus opinions, will find their influence constantly increasing.
The deadwood, the dirtballs, will find themselves limited to a very few terms. They will exert very little influence on the system, and quickly leave. The very best people we produce will rise, and serve as an example to all who follow. Those with skill, and vision, and a passion for democracy, will quickly grow in stature and respect. And the length of time they serve will be in direct correlation to their talents.
Josh Skandar writes for booksXYZ.com, the non-profit bookstore listing over 3,000,000 books. His current recommendation is Accordions, Fiddles, Two-Step, & Swing: A Cajun Music Reader, a compilation of the best material ever written on Cajun music.