OP-ED

Might term limits lessen influence of party extremes?

Posted 11/24/21

What’s a middle-of-the-road American to do?  On the left, the average, hard-working American sees the progressive/anarchist mob.  On the right, this quietly patriotic American sees …

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OP-ED

Might term limits lessen influence of party extremes?

Posted

What’s a middle-of-the-road American to do?  On the left, the average, hard-working American sees the progressive/anarchist mob.  On the right, this quietly patriotic American sees the narrow-minded Trump mob.  With the two bookends growing larger, pushing the political middle into the most narrow slice of the electorate in decades, where’s the refuge for this weary American?

Unfortunately, this bewildered American has looked at so-called “centrist” Democrats and Republicans for refuge but remains adrift.  Political expediency, campaign donations and self-preservation have caused previously centrist politicians in both parties to move toward their parties’ extremes.  These craven politicians have heard the mobs and they're frightened.  Rather than fight for what’s good for America, these so-called moderates have been cowed into silence and blackmailed by the mobs into voting with their extreme colleagues. 

This exhausted American is becoming jaded.  He can’t pick and choose among the myriad political positions espoused by today’s politicians.  Some may claim to support certain middle-class values—such as fiscal conservatism, support for necessary social programs, individual rights, and military strength—but none of them hew closely to the range of political beliefs that define the ever-narrowing political middle ground.  And none seem to embrace the Jeffersonian idea that the government that governs best, governs least.  

Thus, this perplexed American has considered sitting out the next few elections.  If only there were an option on the ballot to vote “none of the above.”  That option not available, voting for a third party is the most feasible move.         

How can this whole thing be fixed?  What has to change to widen the middle of the political spectrum so that the two extremes no longer practically meet in the center?

Politicians who call themselves moderates in both major parties have, in essence, become members of their parties’ extremes because of their silent acquiescence to the screams of the mobs and their consequent votes against what’s good for America.  They must somehow regain their faith in themselves and in their country and, once again, speak up for what they truly believe—and vote accordingly. 

This is not likely to happen on its own, however.  Most politicians got to where they are because of what many Americans believe were unlawful, unethical, or mean-spirited actions they’ve taken behind the scenes.  For the most part, they simply aren’t trusted.

What two-word phrase would accelerate the growth of honesty among politicians and return to them their fealty to the best interests of America?  Term limits!

If those in the U.S. House of Representative were allowed only one four-year term and U.S. senators only one eight-year term, there would be no reason for them to suppress their beliefs or to cast votes inimical to the best interests of our country.  Even keeping the current term lengths but limiting representatives to three terms and senators to two, would greatly lessen the influence of the party extremes and restore backbones to our elected leaders.  It would also greatly lessen the influence of money on political decisions.

Until Americans see term limits or, at least, see their elected representatives start to display through their votes their loyalty to the ideals that made this country great, more and more worn out, middle-ground voters will refrain from trudging to the polls in 2022 and 2024.

That’s unfortunate since they could vote for a third party.  Granted, it’s highly unlikely that any third party candidate will win.  But, such votes will have, in essence, made the same statement as “none of the above” regarding the now extremist Democrats and Republicans. 

Yes, thinking Americans now have no major party to vote for.  And that’s a sad state of affairs for our republic.           

A Warwick resident Lonnie Barham, a retired military officer, is a lifelong Republican who voted Libertarian in the last election.

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