Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A political rant on term limits

Since the purpose of this blog is to encourage and resource small church leaders I try to stay away from political commentary. However, now that this recent off-year election is over and the next election is coming up, it's time to make some comments.

There are few people who would argue that this nation is in bad shape. Washington can talk about a growing economy, but that doesn't mean much to people who can't find a job or those who are working 2-3 jobs to earn a fraction of what they used to make. Culturally, we are in even worse shape as the moral foundations of this nation are crumbling, and those that continue to stand are under constant attack.

There is both a spiritual and a political element to this. America is in desperate need of a spiritual revival. Too many of our churches exist in name only and, for all practical purposes, are dead. While many people claim to be Christians, their actions do not support that claim. If all those who claimed to be Christians stood up with one voice, many of the problems we have as a nation would not exist. This is all material for another post; today we are going to touch on the political element.

Americans are dissatisfied with the lack of leadership in Congress. A recent Gallup poll found that only 13 percent of the people approved of the work Congress was doing. This is not a recent problem for Congress. For the past several years the approval rating for Congress has hovered around 20 percent or lower. However, in the 2014 election 95 percent of House incumbents were reelected and 82 percent of the Senators up for reelection kept their seats. How is it possible that Americans can claim to be dissatisfied with the work of Congress and yet the same people are reelected year after year?

Former Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill, published a book in 1987 which I still have in my library. In the book he tells how early in his political life he learned that all politics is local. If you take care of the people in your district you can vote just about any way you want to in Washington and still be reelected to office. Make sure the roads get paved, help people in your district deal with Federal bureaucracy, ride in the local parades, get your picture taken with the small town politicians, and the people will blame all the other members of Congress for the mess things are in. You'll get reelected.

For several years now we've heard calls for term limits for members of Congress. While that might be a good idea, does anyone think that Congress is actually going to approve such a thing? They didn't spend millions of dollars to be elected to an office they can only hold for a certain amount of time. Congress is unlikely to ever approve term limits, but we don't need them to do that. We already have term limits in place; they're called elections.

Every two years we have an election to vote on persons to represent us in various national, state, and local governments. Voters have the power of term limits in our hands if we will use it.

I'm a big believer in that you can't solve a problem with the same people who created the problem. In this recent election I voted against people I voted for in previous elections. I did so because I didn't think their work deserved a second vote. Someone else needed to have that office to see if they would do better. As we prepare for a national election in 2016 I have the same opinion.

America has big problems. The people who have been elected to office to solve problems have done nothing except make them worse. We cannot solve the problems that exist in this nation with the same people who created the problems, and they've already proven they do not have any solutions to solve them. It's time to give someone else the opportunity.

Don't worry about getting your street paved. The next person you elect to office will make sure that happens. Your next congressman or Senator will continue to take care of the local needs, and maybe he or she will also begin to address some of the critical issues facing this nation. And if they don't...there will be another election.


Raymond Mann said...

Thanks for the the insightful commentary, Dennis. I find this kind of thing tricky, being a bivo pastor, since even as a private citizen it can get you into hot water. I try to keep away from political commentary unless asked although this year I have spoken out a couple of times simply to defend the concept of 'civil dialogue' which is so missing in today's environment. To my dismay I have found that ad hominem attacks are now considered normal. And yes, I too have voted for people, observed them on the job and decided they did not merit a vote in the next election.

"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." Romans 12:18

Dennis Bickers said...

Thank you Raymond for your comments. As a pastor I urged our congregation to be involved in the political process as responsible citizens and to vote on candidates who best reflected their values. I was always very careful to not engage in partisan politics. I was so careful about not showing favoritism for an individual candidate that I would not let my Father put a political sign in my yard when he ran for a local political office.

You are correct about the lack of civil dialogue in our nation. People seem to believe that the person who yells the loudest, interrupts the most often, and and makes personal attacks becomes the winner This is not only true in the political arena but also as we discuss the various social issues of the day. How refreshing it would be if people would simply debate issues.