To the editor:
The political situation in our country is disturbing. The Republicans in Congress don’t want to cooperate with the new Democratic president, much like the Democrats when the shoe is on the other foot. Not too long ago, I had a conversation with a retired Republican United States senator. He stated that when he was in the Senate, they sometimes bickered with the Democrats, but when something really needed to be dome, they rolled up their sleeves and hammered out an agreement. He said, “They don’t do that anymore.”
I think many newly-elected representatives and senators go to the District of Columbia with good intentions. Then they are confronted with the party leadership that lets them know they won’t get the committee assignments they want and financial support for their reelection campaign if they don’t follow instructions from the party’s leadership. Recently, Liz Cheney, a Republican in the House of Representatives, voted of the impeachment of Donald Trump. I assume voting her conscience. A furor resulted within the Republican leadership in Congress and she nearly lost her leadership position. The same would’ve happened with the Democrats if the situation was reversed.
It’s hard to imagine that the framers of the Constitution envisioned a situation where we had professional politicians who hold office for 20, 30 years or more. The drafters of the Constitution were farmers, shopkeepers, and lawyers who went to the Capitol to do the country’s business and then went home. It doesn’t seem right that Nancy Pelosi in the House and Mitch McConnell (formerly the Senate majority leader) are able to even keep particular legislation from even receiving a vote, or in the case of McConnell, that he could previously do that.
Anyone being critical should have a solution to offer. Mine would be to impose term limits. Limit senators to two terms of six years and representatives to four terms of two years. That way, at least in their last term, the members of Congress could vote their conscience and do what’s best for the country without fear of retribution from party leadership or without fear that they will get no assistance from their party in a reelection effort. Just a few years ago, Senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker announced they were retiring. Then, they felt free to criticize Donald Trump for his erratic behavior, while other Republicans would not do so for fear of retribution.
Googling “term limits” will bring up a number of organizations and groups that promote term limits. It’s certainly time for people elected in Congress to do what is in the best interest of the country, rather than what the party leadership tells them to do. The current system does not function efficiently. Just think of the great things that could be accomplished if members of Congress would operate under the guideline of what is best for the country, rather than toeing the party line.
Tim R. Karstetter,
Last modified Feb. 25, 2021