Corruption in government is a given in any society. As human beings, some are more susceptible to kickbacks and more easily enticed by perks. This is how people like Republican United States Senator Susan Collins run for office pledging to serve only two terms and end up hanging around for much longer. Warriors go to the capitol to fight for the people and instead find out that D.C. is a beautiful way of life.
So how do we prevent this? How does society prevent entrenched politicians from sinking our government functions?
The easy suggestion is term limits. A solution that became prominent with the rise of the Tea Party Movement in the 2010 midterm elections, it became a favorite among conservative activists and Republican lawmakers. If a politician could say they support limiting the number of terms served, conservative support was promising. Similarly, grassroots activists openly embraced the idea.
And, in theory, term limits do work. Who wouldn’t have wanted Harry Reid termed out already? There’s then John Boehner, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and so on. The list goes on quite long. That point alone seems to prove the point of term limits supporters.
Except it doesn’t.
The fact that the list of corrupt, entrenched, and otherwise unfavorable politicians is so long shows us why term limits wouldn’t work. If we term out Nancy Pelosi in a state like California, who’s to say that there wouldn’t be another statist to enter? We do, after all, have a problem because the big government crowd outnumbers liberty to a significant degree.
Let’s look at things from another angle. What happens when the good legislators get termed out?
The story of former Texas Congressman Ron Paul is well known. Over two different stints, he served several terms in the United States House of Representatives. In 2008, he mounted an unsuccessful candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination. While losing the race, a modern libertarian revolution rose from the ashes of his campaign. It would only grow when he ran an even stronger campaign in 2012.
From these two campaigns came the Campaign For Liberty and countless other organizations, an endless reserve of young activists engaging in politics from municipal to federal level politics, and a movement full of life and energy.
But what if Ron Paul had been termed out long ago? The revolution may not have happened.
If not term limits, what is our recourse in dealing with entrenched politicians and deep political corruption?
Term limits make a complacent electorate. What incentive does anyone have to research the issues and become involved in the process if the worst of people will be termed out in two years? Regardless of who may or may not come next, at least this bad person doesn’t have long.
Term limits also feed the notion the problem has to do with personalities when the issue is more about policies. The reason why corruption occurs is because the lifestyle is appealing. It will attract more people that will embrace it as opposed to those who reject it.
Thus the answer to corruption and career politicians is education. We defeat bad politics and detrimental policies by researching the issues, knowing the candidates, and being involved in the process. By simply engaging in these three points, we are using intelligence and information to place a term limit on the corruption mentality and career politician culture.
This will be much more effective, in the long run, towards the goal of eliminating career politics and corruption.