As I review the comments over at other “liberal” blogs, I see a pattern of commentary from those that I think of as Puritans.
There is a prescriptive trifecta to “cure all our ills” in the body politic:
1) More parties. (We have discussed this in some depth, but will return to it. For now it is not the topic of discussion.)
2) Campaign Finance Reform
3) Term Limits
I can add a fourth, but we will not discuss it in this seminar, but rather save it for a future discussion: Primary reform.
This conversation will also exclude as obviously a non-starter a suggestion pushed at me recently; direct democracy at the Federal level. Ballot initiatives to write law for a nation of a third of a billion people. If anyone really wants to discuss that as if it were a serious proposal, I welcome you to write a separate column about it.
Now, I think most of you know me now to be a grumpy old grump, and I embrace that. I would like to keep this discussion on some sort of serious track. There is a meme of conversation that I don’t much respect: “If only all the good people would get together and do the right thing”. Please, no hanky-wringing. Let us have a conversation about reforms that can actually be implemented without scrapping the Constitution. Likewise, if a proposal is utterly politically untenable, then please have the courtesy to at least acknowledge that reality as you argue for it.
I have been giving the Puritans a pretty hard time. Whenever one of them declares that all could be resolved with Campaign Finance Reform, I ask them to explain how that is possible without repealing the First Amendment?
So if you are aware of serious, considered proposals for Campaign Finance Reform that have even a ghost of a chance of being implemented and not struck down by the Supreme Court, then please tell us about it. A synopsis or outline of the proposal is what I’m looking for, and of course as many links to original source material as you can find.
Likewise term limits. Now, it is my considered opinion that term limits are a horrific idea. California has enacted pretty strict term limits, and is rapidly becoming ungovernable. Possibly the two are not connected, but I’d like to see a reasoned argument to that effect if anyone wants to make that argument.
And I will note that Mexico has utterly draconian term limits. Mexican legislators are limited to a single term, and we all know what a fine example of effective governance is Mexico.
So if anyone would care to participate, I’d like to kick this around for a few days and review toward the end of the week, when I’ll try to summarize and refocus the discussion for a second round.