Term Limit Group Makes a New Score
This week, the Alliance for Bonded Term Limits - an organization based in Pinehurst - found a second congressional candidate to make a bonded pledge to serve a limited stint in Washington.
Whether you support the concept of term limits or not, it's quite impressive to consider that the alliance, founded just last May, has been able to find two candidates willing to put their money where their mouth is, literally, and make such a promise.
In October, Will Breazeale, a Republican candidate for North Carolina's 7th Congressional District, pledged $250,000 to a charity if he serves more than six years in the House. (The alliance recommends a six-year maximum for congressmen and senators.) This week, another Republican, Scott Keadle, said he'll give $500,000 to Moore County Sentinels of Freedom if he breaks his promise of quitting after three terms. Keadle is challenging incumbent Congressman Patrick McHenry for the Republican nomination in North Carolina's 10th District.
Credit the alliance's tenacious corps of organizers for making such headway in such a short time. A tip of the hat to Breazeale and Keadle for having the intestinal fortitude to put so much on the line to prove they're serious about integrity and accountability.
Distrust Is Soaring
And accountability is the operative word. Americans are more distrustful of their elected officials than ever.
Polls show that President Obama's approval rating has fallen below 50 percent - some of the worst numbers for a president in his first year. Most polls show Congress' catastrophic approval rating floundering somewhere in the 20s. With the recent scandals involving the likes of Rod Blagojevich, Charlie Rangel, Eliot Spitzer, Mark Foley, Larry Craig and Tom DeLay, we have good reason for skepticism about our leaders.
The alliance certainly capitalizes on today's powerful - and sometimes unreasoning - fervor to "throw the bums out" and replace them with honest, hard-working people who will supposedly serve their time in Washington and come home soon, giving someone else the opportunity to serve.
That would be great in a perfect world. Imagine having one well-qualified congress member serve six years and then step down, only to be replaced by another equally well-qualified congress member with fresh ideas. Problem is, that's not a political reality, and a good man or woman can be hard to come by.
Vote 'Em Out
Perhaps it's appropriate that Tuesday's signing ceremony took place in a former theater, because the idea does have a hint of showmanship - some would say gimmickry - to it. The public display of making such a pledge provides needed publicity for challengers that face an uphill battle against incumbents, as well as a ready-made campaign talking point.
It's hard to find fault with the alliance's motives, but there are a lot of good public servants out there who do work diligently for their constituents, not always for their own self-interest. Our own Howard Coble has faithfully served the 6th District for 25 years. He has made his own pledge to forgo a pension. Should he be automatically replaced simply because he's been in Washington "too long"?
The idea of term limits for Congress has been debated ad nauseum A constitutional mandate is unlikely, and frankly, it seems undemocratic.
We already have a mechanism for holding politicians accountable: We can throw them out of office at the next election. Is locking good ones into an obligation to turn back into a pumpkin really a viable improvement?
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