Readers sent lots of good ideas for reforming our government in response to a column two weeks ago. Many of you liked my idea of curtailing second terms of presidents and governors to two years on the theory that they accomplish little.
But some disagreed. Here are some of your thoughts, and my reaction to them:
“Why have two terms? Under the present system … most of their time in office … would be spent campaigning to get re-elected. … Why not have Congress and the president serve one six-term term?” — Lyle Phillips
Two things, Lyle. Six years is a mighty long time. In this fast-paced world, that’s too long. And I like the motivation a re-election campaign provides. They’ve got to work hard for a second term. You get the best of both worlds this way — the change that the initial election offers, and the freedom of a short second term that allows for the unconventional.
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“Term limits for Congress.” — Michael Whitsitt
I get the appeal of term limits. But this is one of those fixes I’ve struggled with for years. Look no further than Jefferson City to see the impact of what you suggest, Michael. Yes, we’ve seen lots of new faces. But we’ve also seen the scourge of inexperience play out with shortsighted legislation (impeaching Gov. Jay Nixon, for one) and bills that contain numerous drafting errors. The lack of the long view that experience affords hurts.
“I would insist that new members (of Congress) be tested on their knowledge of how this system works.” — Barbara Bever
Tempting. But campaigns are supposed to test knowledge. I’ll stick with that.
“Because the people own the airwaves, have the (Federal Communications Commission) declare that all licensed broadcast media must carry political advertising free of charge. … This will reduce the building of obscenely huge political war chests and the consequent corruption.” — Norm Ledgin
You’re onto something, Norm. Broadcasters owe the public far more than they’re giving us.
“Every candidate running for office must have a polygraph attached to them during any interviews and debates during the entire campaign.” — Mario Lombardo
My goodness. Maybe we should all wear them. Now THAT would shake things up.
In your emails, many of you added a caveat that bothered me. “Never happen,” said Leland Shurin.
Don’t give up, folks. Knock out a quick email to your local rep. It’s this deep-seated belief that our ideas don’t matter that drives me nuts. Weigh in. Speak up. Few of us do it. On this July Fourth weekend, talking truth to power is exactly what the founders intended.