Merry Election Day! Despite this weekend’s proposal, in the New York Times, to “Cancel the Midterms.” The authors, David Schanzer and Jay Sullivan, begin by lamenting the predictable pattern of midterm elections, especially in second-term presidencies. And then they say the very existence of midterms — the mere possibility of the House and a third of the Senate reshuffling every two years — “is harmful to American politics.”
The main impact of the midterm election in the modern era has been to weaken the president, the only government official (other than the powerless vice president) elected by the entire nation. . . . The realities of the modern election cycle are that we spend almost two years selecting a president with a well-developed agenda, but then, less than two years after the inauguration, the midterm election cripples that same president’s ability to advance that agenda.
The nut of the argument comes down to the notion that it would be best to rig the game to avoid conflict and dispute for as long as possible so that an “agenda” — whatever that may be — can be firmly put in place.
It’s the very opposite idea of the Founding Fathers’, who were trying to set up a system of checks and balances to preclude big, barely popular change. And who feared a powerful executive.
The Midterm Cancellation proposal gets absurd towards the end, where the authors tack on legislative term limits — an awfully generous 24 years — to counteract the extended terms their proposal requires.
Counteroffer: let’s start with term limits. Real ones.
Break up the incumbency power in our sclerotic Congress; don’t rob the people of biannual input.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.