We have too many elections. Nothing can be accomplished because there is always an election which means that the political needle could tip in the other direction. This incentivizes the group that is out of power to block the group in power from setting policies that they find unacceptable.
As elections become ever more expensive, and we tend to read campaign contributions as votes, the stakes are higher and higher. A party that wants to use grassroots financing faces enormous challenges. They cannot talk to their constituents about policy without asking for a donation and they are not actually seeking opinions, only dollars. The grassroots campaign is competing against campaigns funded by corporations and millionaires and billionaires and, although their goal is to put elections back in the hands of the people, the campaigns that don’t accept big donors find it hard to win.
Today the media reports that the GOP spent 8 million dollars on a candidate in a local election in Maryland who is highly unlikely to win, and half the money went to a single firm.
Changing terms and setting term limits would not be easy since these are constitutional matters and would require amendments. Amendments require high levels of congressional agreement and national backing which are probably impossible for any metric to reach right now with our nation split about 47-41 and some voters choosing to abstain.
Setting all terms at six years might fix the problem of always being in an election cycle. Washington pundits, with their deep interest in all things election-related, offer up the common ‘wisdom’ that the first 100 days of any presidency are the most important, that nothing can get done after 2 years into a term, and now we have all have learned that Supreme Court justices are subject to different limits depending on which party is in charge. If the Democrats try to fill an empty Supreme Court seat a year out from an election is too late, but if you are a Republican there is no time limit at all. If a President served for six years would we get more bang for our buck? Suppose that a President could only serve one term.
We could elect Representatives to the House for six year terms and stagger who’s running like the Senate does, 1/3 every six years. We could limit Representatives and Senators to two terms of six years. This would allow more Americans to serve the public and it would not allow career politicians to claim ownership in our legislature. Even the Supremes could have shorter terms. There are so many qualified people to fill all these seats.
Finally we could do that thing that is brought up all the time and then discarded as impossible. We could ditch the electoral college, especially now that politicians are trying to turn it into a numbers game. It always gave elites an edge, now it gives an edge to cheaters. It is an outdated tactic to block uneducated people from choosing bad leaders, that is now being used by supposedly well educated people to choose bad leaders.
The issue of voter suppression is once again before the Supreme Court as legislation tries to put the starch back in the Voter Rights Act with John Lewis’s posthumous bill to restore the preclearance section of the act. Also before the court are various voter rules passed in some states to make it harder for minorities to vote. Some states wish to abolish vote by mail, some want no voting on Sundays to put the kibosh on Souls to the Polls activities which help minorities get out the vote, some states still want voter ID laws and the creative ways to block liberal votes go on and on. Republicans get an A for innovative vote blocking nastiness, but an F for fair and free elections. Clearly here is a chance for all those right wing justices to pay some of their dues to their GOP overlords. We’ll see.
Would shifting the message from killing votes by a thousand cuts to changing terms and term limits stop the GOP from messing with voting rights? IDK. The ERA amendment has been around for many decades and still catches our attention from time to time. We could try composing and proposing an amendment to change the language on terms and term limits and keep that beach ball up in the air for a few decades until it has the votes required to amend the Constitution.