Nice Work If You Can Get It

October 12, 2010

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?


It’s Time for Term Limits & “No Confidence” Vote

September 30, 2008


With the nation teetering on economic chaos (while Congress continues to play the blame game), the Presidential campaign is still moving along… it’s just that our focus is elsewhere. It’s hard to get excited over the upcoming elections when we don’t even know if we’ll be in a full-fledged economic meltdown by then.

Is anyone really excited by the upcoming debate between Sarah “Baracuda” Palin and Joe “Mumbles” Biden?

Or are we more concerned that our 401(K)s may be worthless by this time next week?

How much more can “We The People” take before we are the ones who say, “enough is enough?” And I’m not talking about blaming just the Bush administration. As was mentioned in a recent post, we should all be at the point fictitious news anchor Howard Beale was when he finally shrieked, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more!”

So we scream and stamp our feet. It might make us feel better, but it doesn’t change a thing.  What, then, do we do? Where do we go from here?

My thought is this: We suck in our gut and brave the storm. We continue to believe that the free enterprise system and democracy are still the best show in town. And we fix the problem from within.

From within? From within!

Look, we can blame Congress all we want. But the bottom line is we put ’em there. It’s up to us to clear ’em out.

Now is the time to demand term limits, coupled with the ability to demand and implement a vote of no confidence. How ludicrous is it to have Congress in charge of the legislative branch of our country, yet working on a 9% approval rating?  With a “no confidence vote” option on the table, they’d have to spend less time padding their own pockets and those of the special interest groups supporting them, and maybe actually find themselves working for us to protect their own positions.

I don’t know what lies ahead for this country, but we had better all pull our heads out of the sand and start participating at a much higher level. We need to demand term limits so self-serving politicians can’t make Congress their personal piggy bank. We need the no confidence vote option so when folks like Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid prove themselves the incompetents they truly are (I’ll let you fill in the names of an equal number of Republicans as there is no shortage on either side of the aisle), we can run them out of Washington as they so richly deserve.

OK, everybody, altogether now:

“This land is your land.
This land is my land…”

Woodie Guthrie meant those lines as a celebration of what it is to be an American. We surrender that glory when we choose to ignore what our elected officials are doing in detail.

It’s time to sing those lines again, but as a reminder to ourselves and those officials. Not as a celebration, but as a warning: They have been entrusted with the care of this land and our government. Either they start taking that responsibility seriously and start representing our interests or get the hell out of Washington, D.C.

I do feel a new revolution possibly brewing. But it’s not about overthrowing our form of government. It’s about getting rid of the self-serving asses who have run this country into the ground while they served themselves and their special interests, all to the detriment of the rest of us.

The first blow in this revolution can be done legally in the privacy of your voting booth. Rebuke all candidates up for re-election if they have not served your interests in favor of special interests. Put all politicians who aren’t up for re-election this time around on notice also: You’ve got a little while longer, and we will be watching everything you do.

It’s OK to be mad as hell. It’s even better if we choose a course of action to employ that anger in a positive way.

This situation reminds me of another song title that is appropriate at this time: “People Get Ready.”

Gerry Ashley