Confidence in Government
Your editorial “It’s Now or Never” (Dec. 25) and several of the letters from readers on the same page are continuing evidence of the public’s lack of confidence in our federal, state and local governments and the elected politicians in office. I certainly agree that such a lack of confidence exists and is growing. However, I can’t fault the politicians because if they acted differently they probably wouldn’t be in office. Our present system causes politicians to have as their first three priorities: 1) reelection, 2) being friendly to all constituents, and 3) doing what they can for the nation, after fulfilling the first two priorities.
In my carefully considered opinion, substantial improvement can be made in our governments rather simply--always vote against incumbents in primary as well as general elections. If only 25% of the voters did this I expect very substantial benefits to result quickly. Most elective terms would be too short for that system and I advocate lengthening them. Perhaps for the President and senators, 8-year terms with one-eighth of the senators elected each year. Congressmen should serve something like four years, with one-quarter being elected each year, etc.
Such a change cannot be enacted into law as the opposition is much too powerful. But no law on re-election is needed as support of this principle by 25% of the voters would be fully effective. After that the politicians would quickly extend the terms. A utopian result is not claimed, but I am quite sure that substantial benefits would result.
All major problems are controversial. Politicians concerned over their reelection are, quite justifiably, afraid of offending groups of voters and so avoid essential actions.