The Church of Kharma Futures

The Rev's views on politics, events,faith, and the world. All content copyright Church of Kharma Future 2007-2015 All rights Reserved

The Corrupting Power Of Incumbency

Posted by revkharma on May 7, 2009

During the debate and discussion of Arlen Specter’s self serving party switch, some numbers jumped out at me. First, we heard Senator Specter reassuring his constituents in Pennsylvania that even as he changed parties he would still be able to  ‘look out for their interests’ as he had such seniority. Specter first took a seat in the US Senate in 1980. Each time he was reelected, he gained more and more seniority. Seniority is the grease of the US Congress. the longer you serve, the more you accumulate power and prestige.  That is why Specter switched and then announced he had been assured he would keep his seniority. 

That is also why when the Democrat party took a vote, the current senior Democrats voted to keep the seniority the way it was, and demoted the party switcher to the status of freshman. The Dems got what they wanted: numerical superiority. They now need to squeeze the turncoat so he will toe the party line. After the commitee assignments were named there was a moment of pure coincidence.  Senator Jeff Sessions, of Alabama was moved to the position of Ranking Member of the judiciary committee.  Arlen Specter was the previous occupant of that slot. Also on the committee was Joe Biden, who ironically helped to torpedo the nomination of Sessions to a federal court appointment in 1986. Biden had first been elected to the senate in 1972.

Think of those numbers.  These people have been in government the majority of their adult lives. Yet again and again they campaign as ‘ friend of the little guy’!  Or insist that ‘ I’m working for YOU!’  Over and over in campaign ads.  No one who has worked in the rarified atmosphere of the United States Congress for 20 or 30 years can possibly have more than a remote understanding of the life of ordinary Americans.  That’s why they work so hard to build incentives to reelection of incumbents. Gerrymandered districts are drawn and redrawn to ensure the club stays together. Members have their own insurance, and retirement and vast arrays of perks that most people could only dream of. They are essentially taken care of at taxpayer expense twenty four hours a day. They have private police, security, facilities, and benefits which insulate them from the rest of the world.

Critical to any changes, any attempt to control the bloated Leviathan in DC is eliminating such seniority. As long as members can have a life time job they will have little accountability. They will play the charade of arguing party platforms, but in the end, the only goal is preservation of the system as it exists. And make no mistake, they have rigged the system so it caters to them instead of the people of America. Elections are bought and sold with pork projects. Things like Alaska Senator Stevens’ now famous ‘Bridge to Nowhere’. Or look to John Murtha’s steering of more than $200 million to an airport that serves roughly TWENTY passengers per day.

These two examples are merely two obvious perversions of government which are products of the insidious system of incumbency and seniority. We will be unable to change the direction of government until we can stop that. Term limits are essential to the return of government to the people of the nation.

Keep the Faith

The Rev

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