Over the past 30 years, most of us have been increasingly frustrated with legislative leaders. One response has been a call for term limits. But that won’t solve the underlying problems — it will only give us more elected newbies. Historically, there have been many fine elected officials who have served the country well over decades. Our goal should be to increase the likelihood of that happening again.
The first problem is legislators creating “safe” districts for themselves through gerrymandering. This means the “base” is on the fringes. There is less incentive, once elected, to listen to one’s constituents or to reach across the aisle to compromise. When district boundaries get drawn, we need independent panels under judicial, rather than legislative, review. We need more swing districts, amenable to shifts in public opinion.
Second, the upsurge in money going to elections, particularly from corporations, has diminished the importance of individual voters. We need to get the corporate money out of elections and put a voter’s name on every contribution. We need contribution limits so the wealthy cannot buy our representatives so easily.
These two corrections to the current process would fix much of the problem we face currently with our elected legislators.