Change the System

Posted Monday, August 20, 2012, at 12:02 PM
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  • Michael,

    Interesting thoughts. I would add: one of my biggest complaints with the two-party system is that the established party narratives seem to curtail ideas and restrain discourses that don't fall within the party lines. We might have more productive debates and probably better political outcomes if the solution to every problem we face wasn't a choice between a (D) solution or an (R) solution.

    Ron Paul is a good example of what happens when a person with interesting ideas doesn't conform to the GOP narrative. The Dems as you point out are a more scattered-brained bunch than the lockstep automatons in the GOP, so you get some wide variation in ideas and discourse from the left, but a guy like Paul has to either conform to the GOP talking points, or face marginalization. Romney on the other hand decided to conform, even if it means he has to completely and openly contradict some of his previous (more leftwing oriented) policy decisions. Maybe we'd get a better range of ideas/solutions if more than two-parties controlled the generation of ideas/solutions?

    "We the people have the ultimate ability to put term limits on our elected officials, we do not need laws to help us with that."

    Not sure what you mean here, Michael. We have laws which empower 'we the people' to elect new representatives after a specified amount of time. The citizenry doesn't have the ultimate ability to determine term limits without our representatives changing the existing laws, right? Doesn't that mean we need these laws/reps to help us? What would happen if suddenly we had no term limit laws?

    -- Posted by Benevolus on Mon, Aug 20, 2012, at 5:46 PM
  • Mike means if we don't like our leaders vote them out. We don't need term limits as every election can serve as a limit. On the other hand if we like our leaders we should be able to reelect them as they are doing a good job.

    I am inclined to agree with Mike on this one.


    -- Posted by wmarsh on Mon, Aug 20, 2012, at 7:36 PM
  • Wallis,

    Here are some examples of term limits...

    Article 2 of the Constitution:

    "The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows[1]"

    22nd Amendment to the Constitution:

    "No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once."

    Are you suggesting that we amend the Constitution? Or are you suggesting that we continue the puzzling practice of assigning term limits to some leaders and not others?

    -- Posted by Benevolus on Mon, Aug 20, 2012, at 8:02 PM
  • *

    I don't personally believe in term limits at all. I understand the logic behind the term limits placed on the president, but at the same I don't believe they are necessary.

    It would extremely hard to get rid of the presidential term limits and slightly easier at the state level, but if a person is doing well enough in their job that people want to continue voting for them I see no issue with it.

    I know it may seem odd that I am at odds with a progressive idea but it's one that just doesn't make sense to me.

    -- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Mon, Aug 20, 2012, at 9:19 PM
  • Michael,

    I am not sure how "progressive" an idea term limits are, seeing as how they have been a part of the nation since its very beginning. In fact, one can go back before the founding of the nation to thinkers like William Penn to find the idea of term limits for governors and representatives.

    Term limits are actually a rather good idea in my opinion because, for example, they make it a much more difficult task for the various lobbies, corporations, etc., to exercise their influence over elected officials at all levels of government. It is an easier task, for example, for US Bank (or for the AFT for that matter) to make contributions that influence one Congressman's decisions for 3 decades, than it is for US Bank/AFT to influence say 15 people over that same period of time.

    The old guard is against this change for obvious reasons, but if lobbies and special interests are a problem in our government, then term limits are a step towards, not away, from a solution.

    -- Posted by Benevolus on Mon, Aug 20, 2012, at 11:54 PM
  • I have no problem with the President on term limits. I would suggest that if you view city government with term limits you can see issues with massive roll over every 3 election cycles or so.

    I would also suggest that congress would be an issue if every 2 years you had 200 or so new members in congress. If your elected leader is doing a bad job elect someone else. I think that in a term limit situation you are more likely for an official to go rogue.

    -- Posted by wmarsh on Tue, Aug 21, 2012, at 4:36 AM
  • *


    I would worry that without the electoral college, rural states such as Arkansas and Nebraska would be harmed. I think a much better solution to the "problem" of winning the popular vote would be a push for other states to adopt district based electoral votes as Nebraska and (I think) Maine have. At the very least it would give people in minority parties in a state a reason to vote.

    -- Posted by SWNebr Transplant on Tue, Aug 21, 2012, at 10:32 AM
  • I agree that term limits are unnecessary as "it is the responsibility of an informed electorate to vote for effective legislators and political leaders and fire those who aren't in the next election".(per 1960's 8th Grade Civics class in Red Willow County, NE) And as for the office of the President, the heavy toll the office takes on the occupant makes it highly unlikely anyone would want more than two terms.

    And before anything else, believe campaign funding needs to be reformed because catering to special interests to secure funds has a significant, if not the overriding, polarizing effect on our present political process.

    Perhaps a place to start would be eliminating vice presidential candidates and returning to the original provision that the candidate who finishes second becomes the vice president, maybe then we would begin to relearn the art of compromise in our political process.

    -- Posted by ontheleftcoast on Tue, Aug 21, 2012, at 5:20 PM
  • In theory, not having term limits might be justifiable, but in reality, term limits are necessary because sadly "simply voting someone out" is not quite what happens when a politician is doing a poor job.

    Take a cautionary tale from ancient Venice...

    Venice in the 9th century was chalk full of expert sailors who were renowned for their adventuresome dispositions. Venetians were able to fairly successfully corner the salt market. In part this was possible because of a system their government established wherein patrons could invest in, or commission an adventurer to seek new trade routes/resources/salt/etc. This financial innovation made Venice not only a trading powerhouse but also there was upward mobility because of the access to new wealth (thus, leading to political power) for new players. During the 9th to 15th century, Venice was arguably the richest place on earth.

    Then, after centuries of growth, the powerful and wealthy families eventually found ways to close political power off from newcomers. In essence they did away with limits on how long someone could serve on the governing council. Once political power was sequestered to the few, rather than the many, newcomers were shut out of the economy as well.

    When political power was monopolized and there wasn't sufficient political turnover, the Venetian economy suffered enormously as result of new economic policies that helped the elites maintain power (any of this sounding familiar yet?). The economic collapse meant a smaller and poorly trained navy. A smaller and more poorly trained navy meant Venice could not defend itself against aggressors like the Ottomans. Venice's power ebbed and flowed for awhile, but its decreased military potency, along with its inability to maintain previously monopolized trade routes and its unwillingness to fund new explorations for routes and resources eventually led to Venice's collapse. All this could have been avoided had the limits on how long a person could sit on the governing council would have been maintained.

    Flash forward to today...term limits are a step in the right direction if we wish to avoid a similar fate, and ensure that new entrepreneurs, community leaders, etc., are able gain political power. Term limits likewise ensure that the old guard cannot maneuver to close access to political power.

    -- Posted by Benevolus on Wed, Aug 22, 2012, at 10:54 AM
  • *

    I believe that by limiting the role that lobbyists and special interests have within the political system the less power they could achieve.

    Benevolus, when I speak of term limits as a progressive idea I am speaking of the progressive movement at the end of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th Century when term limits swept parts of the nation along with other ideas.

    The idea of splitting each states electoral votes into their districts is not a bad one. Nebraska and Main are the only states that currently do that and it probably would not be a bad idea to try it across the nation.

    I agree, ontheleftcoast, the Vice President should either be who finishes second or selected from their own race.

    -- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Wed, Aug 22, 2012, at 5:32 PM
  • Question Mike - You have expressed the fact that your party is to conservative for you. Obama is still water boarding and our Cuban base is still open. Why have you let that issue rest?

    Another question. How would you handle the Iran situation? Iran is promising annihilation and Israel seems like they are going to protect themselves. Do we let the Jewish people face a nuclear attack or do we assist?

    -- Posted by wmarsh on Wed, Aug 22, 2012, at 9:08 PM
  • I will admit that I am assuming that water boarding is still going on. The reason I think that is why else would the President keep the base open after he signed an executive order to close it?

    -- Posted by wmarsh on Wed, Aug 22, 2012, at 9:21 PM
  • Forget the questions Mike.

    Good luck.

    -- Posted by wmarsh on Thu, Aug 23, 2012, at 7:03 AM
  • is the fact the hurricane may strike tampa mean that god hates the GOP/

    -- Posted by president obama on Thu, Aug 23, 2012, at 12:32 PM
  • *

    It's fairly simple marsh, unless Congress, the Senate specifically, can find a place to put the detainees that are at Gitmo the facility can't be closed, despite the Executive Order.

    But what that has to do with changing the election process, I honestly couldn't explain. Can you explain what it has to do with changing the election process?

    -- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Thu, Aug 23, 2012, at 5:32 PM
  • I am all for changing the election process. We should increase the size of congress.

    Think about that for a moment. We have over 275 million people and only 435 make the laws. How stupid is that? We have 100 Senators and only 1 President.

    This country is supposed to be "We the People". How can the people have a say when 536 are in charge?

    -- Posted by wmarsh on Fri, Aug 24, 2012, at 6:18 AM
  • We should eliminate the 2 party system also. At the moment we have:

    Left wingers/Communist

    Proud Liberals

    Single issue Democrats


    Conservative Democrats




    Single issue Conservatives

    Tea Party

    Right Wacko's.

    A free for all would be better representation of the electorate. Coalitions would be formed and there would be divisiveness between groups all the time. The founding fathers had wanted a clear cut winner (Electoral College all or none) so to eliminate the division but those days seem to be fading.

    What do you think about this Mike?

    Another question - Which country should the US model and does it better than us? Curious as to what your road map would look like.

    -- Posted by wmarsh on Fri, Aug 24, 2012, at 6:27 AM
  • I forgot to include the Guns and Toast group. We also have the - The Gold group - the pro drug group - the Animal rights group - etc.

    -- Posted by wmarsh on Fri, Aug 24, 2012, at 7:34 PM
  • *

    You somehow forgot Liberal Republicans but I do disagree with you to an extent and you pigeon holed anyone that considers themselves to be Progressive Liberals as communists when that really isn't the case. I would amend your list as so:

    Left wingers/Communist

    Progressive Liberals

    Liberal Democrats


    Single issue Democrats

    Conservative Democrats


    Liberal Republicans

    Single issue Republicans

    Conservative Republicans

    Tea Party


    Coalitions are already formed. Many of the groups you talk about already have caucuses in Congress. I believe without party control people would be more free to pick the side they agree with more without being labeled and pushed to the side.

    Once elected they would form together in order to get their ideas passed but without the two party label attached the smaller groups would align themselves with the group they felt they could the most accomplished with. I do not believe that divisiveness would get worse I believe that it would improve.

    -- Posted by MichaelHendricks on Sun, Sep 2, 2012, at 9:50 PM
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