Career politicians love to be perceived as reformers, just as long as they don’t have to submit to any actual reform.
Term limits have teeth. We like term limits but politicians don’t. Better for politicians to favor some sort of complex reform scheme that offers lots of wiggle room and a scapegoat to blame when the planned failure occurs. That way they can play the corrupt game even while condemning the game they’re playing.
The Washington Post recently defended campaign reformers who only talk the talk, writing, “It seems too much to demand that a campaign reformer raise no money from the lobbyists he denounces . . .” Only in Washington do people justify raising money from those they denounce as evil.
If you don’t like this squishy thinking, there is a different view. Rep. Matt Salmon of Arizona knows the problem is careerism. That’s why he has term-limited himself to three terms. Why doesn’t Congress reform? Salmon says, “I have seen countless people come to Washington with a zeal for reform only to be seduced by the power, status and privilege that come with the office. And like an addictive narcotic, many people simply can’t give up power and influence after they’ve taken their first hit.”
“Only term limits can change the character of the people who aspire to serve in Congress,” says Salmon. “And until we do that, real reform will have to wait.”
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.