But there is a greater issue than the amount of campaign contributions. It is that too many members of Congress have become careerists. The term-limits movement, which flourished a decade ago, now seems dormant, at least in the public's mind. The Founders never intended to create a class of career politicians. If members of Congress served for only a limited time, the power of money over those who are unable to resist temptation would be greatly diminished. Every member - especially every House member - knows that nonstop fund-raising is the greatest burden they carry. From the day they are sworn in (and in some cases even before that) members are on a nonstop mission to raise money for reelection. Election and reelection, not the people's business, are the primary concern of most members of Congress.
Perhaps "we the people" should reform Congress for their sake and ours. How about emulating the military, which has a sizable number of reservists? Instead of career politicians, why not establish "reserve" congressmen and senators, who would be called upon to legislate when needed and allowed to pursue real careers when not needed? Fewer politicians spending less time in Washington would mean less mischief, lower government costs and more opportunity for the truly talented and dedicated to serve. Instead of being preoccupied with themselves, reserve congresspersons would be preoccupied with and closer to their constituents. They would be more likely to legislate properly because the incentive would not be self-preservation and self-perpetuation, but doing their jobs well so they can get home to their real lives and families.
Some years ago during a previous presidential campaign, Lamar Alexander had a great slogan about Congress: "Cut their pay and send them home." A reserve Congress might have the same effect. It probably won't happen since Congress would have to vote on it. But it might if people get fed up enough.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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