Hey, I thought Chad was a country in Africa. But thanks to the razor-close presidential election, now I know what a chad really is: that little circle or square of paper that may or may not fall out of a ballot when a voter punches it.
With the presidential race so close, every chad that floated to the floor in Florida was the subject of intense scrutiny, debate, and national angst. The races weren’t so close in those 67 House districts where congressional incumbents had no challengers this year. And indeed, most incumbents had no problem snagging reelection, thanks to the overwhelming taxpayer-funded advantages of incumbency.
Incumbents won 98.5 percent of the time. It’s a shame. Elections should be competitive. They should involve real choices and chances. Is there any way to achieve greater competition? How about term limits? At the end of your three terms in the House or two in the Senate, you step down and give other citizens a chance to govern. Just like eleven congressmen did this year, voluntarily.
What happened in Florida is an ironic reversal of the all-too-common scenario of our democracy: electoral contests leeched of all competitiveness, so lopsided it’s hardly worth bothering to count the ballots, let alone the chads.
The good thing about term limits is that they will help make every chad count on a regular basis, not just every couple hundred years.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.