Monday, November 7, 2016

The King-men vs Freemen Battle Continues

As we approach election day tomorrow, a scriptural story comes to mind of a military and religious leader who was trying to protect his people. Factions within the country would overturn their freely elected government and establish a king. Of course those in favor of a king were those who had royal blood (whatever that means) and would be able to take power over the people.

At the same time, enemies from another country were attacking. Rather than give in to the King-men and settle things internally after taking care of the outside enemies, the Freemen took care of the internal threat first. Only having cleansed the inner vessel could they have the strength to stand up against external forces.

It's important not to take the comparison too far, since we do live in a different day and time. We settle disputes in a different way than they did two thousand (or even two hundred) years ago. But watch how those in power spend more time trying to keep themselves in power than they do truly governing according to the will of the people and with the people's interests in mind. It seems that half of what incumbent politicians spend their time doing is raising money and campaigning for themselves and their friends. They set up systems where the longer they have been in office, the more power they have.

From term limits to random committee chair assignments to instant runoff voting to abolishing closed door meetings to publicly funded rather than donor funded elections, there are many steps that could be taken to level the playing field. But as much as the two major political parties fight against each other, they know that they both need to maintain the status quo of an uneven playing field and collude to maintain power between the two of them. As long as legislators can create their own rules, which right there is your biggest conflict of interest, the field will remain uneven.


Jeff Lipton said...

I know this is somewhat old ("old" being a relative term), but I really don't like term limits. All too often, it removes a good politician and replaces them with someone not so good, or replaces someone Ok with someone not so OK. Moreover, it transfers power from long-time CongressCritters who know how to work the system (think of Daniel Moynahan or Tip O'Neill) to lobbyists.

We already have term limits -- it's called "voting the rascals out". Granted, incumbents have major advantages over challengers, but I'd rather see those addressed than throwing out the system as a whole.

robmba said...

I follow you, Jeff. But note that was only one item of many suggestions and not really the point of my post. Term limits would help in some ways, but could potentially lead to other issues like you mentioned. That said, they have built up a power structure so that the longer someone has been in office, the more power they have. This is the real issue. Eventually, after someone has been in office for a couple terms, suddenly the incumbent only has to say that I'm next in line for this big committee chairmanship, so you have to put me back in or our state will lose out on all the pork I can provide from that committee. And we buy it every time. Nevermind whether we agree with what they will do with their power sitting in the big chair.

Utah is talking about instant runoff voting, and some states have implemented it or are close to doing so, which is a step in the right direction for several reasons, and probably the biggest possible improvement that could be made.

I don't quite know what you're referring to when you say we shouldn't throw out the system as a whole. I can't see where I suggested that or how term limits or changing how committee assignments are made would throw out the whole system. But then again, you did focus on term limits when that was only two words in the whole post, the rest of which didn't actually have anything to do with term limits. The point of my post was that we should be voting FOR who we want instead of AGAINST someone we don't want. A lot of people in this last election, faced with two dubious presidential candidates, were holding their nose and voting for someone they didn't like but felt like they had to or else the greater of the two evils would win.

I will say that I like the idea of having an 18 year term limit for Supreme Court justices instead of a life appointment. With 9 justices, that means every 2 years one would be up for replacement, giving every president a guaranteed 2 nominees per term and a more consistent cycle through the court.