As a stong supporter of the Tea Party movement and a self-proclaimed “Mama Grizzly,” I understand the importance of ridding our government of entrenched incumbancy which leads mainly to greed, entitlement, and corruption. Thus we see Tea Parties calling for term limits to root out those clinging bitterly to their power base.
Because we might as well face it: being in Congress is a good gig. The pay is pretty sweet, and gets better the longer you stay, what with automatic cost of living increases and all. Leadership positions pay better than rank-and-file, of course. But even as a lowly freshman Rep, you get a personal staffing allowance, expenses, and of course, franking priviliges! You also get travel benefits (both foreign and domestic) and, depending on your seniority, can frequently bring along family members on junkets er, Congressional delegations. Plus there are recesses galore–even more than teachers get!
In short, it’s nice work if you can get it. And these days, you can get it if you try.
As a small-government Conservative, however, I take exception to the Tea Party’s notion that term limits are the only solution which will rid us of these meddlesome priests of legislation. Term limits smack of nanny-statism, implying that we the people are too stupid to vote out the venal, the corrupt, and the incompetent. And while that may in fact be a fair cop, perhaps we deserve what we get until we smarten up and vote in some fresh blood.
As an antidote to term limits and lifetime incumbencies, why not simply defund Congress? A Congressman, asking to be elected in order to earn a small stipend, with no retirement benefits and no other emoluments to reward his behavior, won’t be able to afford to be a public servant for very long, and thus after a term or two would go back to being whatever s/he was before: lawyer, lobbyist, administrator, whatever.
In fact, making Congress a low-paying job would likely bring our legislators closer to “the people.” Why, if we do enough, they may actually qualify for food stamps, just like nearly 40 million of their fellow Americans–and they won’t even have to give up their soda!
Face it. Congress isn’t going to change unless we the people force it to. The media won’t help; they have a vested interest in keeping the Old Guard in charge.
It’s up to us to make that change, and we can either do it by insisting that Big Brother protect us from our own stupidity, or we can man up and get the job done ourselves. By voting out the entrenched grime of decades, we can vote in new men and women with new (old) ideas about public service to the nation.
But we can’t have it both ways. We’re either a term-limited nanny state, or we’re that vibrant Republic, the shining city on the hill.
What’s it going to be, Tea Partiers?