Election dynamics need to change

The various proposals that President Biden gave to the Congress in his recent presentation to a joint session of Congress has already added more fuel to the us against them fire. And it re-energizes my belief that two things must be changed before Congress stops its constant political gamesmanship, and returns to the oversight “governing” that it was meant to do.

First, Citizens United, must be overturned. Citizens United was the case decided by the Supreme Court that said corporations could act like real people when it came to campaign contributions. This ruling allowed corporations to give extremely huge sums of money to campaigns that best represented their views and economic interests.

No longer were the corporate officers and investors the only source of contributions. Now the company could give. That made it much easier on the personal checkbooks of the officers and investors. In fact, studies of candidate funding sources show clearly that the individual contributions of corporate officers has gone down significantly, while their corporation’s contributions have increased dramatically.

Can a corporation vote? No. Can a corporation be a juror? No. Can a corporation buy a gun? No. Can a corporation marry … get a driver’s license … give blood? No. But the court ruled that campaign contributions were an extension of a corporations right to “speak” in favor of a candidate.

How many members of Congress, on both sides of the aisle, know that it is easier to raise $100,000 from a few corporations than from thousands of individuals? Most of them know it. The two political parties know it and work it daily. In accepting those huge sums of campaign contributions political IOUs are created … perhaps not blatantly, but certainly “understood.”

We need to return to voters funding campaigns, not corporations.

Secondly, term limits are needed.

Committee chairmanships and caucus leadership positions go to the tenured members of Congress, or to those that have generated the most revenue for the caucus. So, representation becomes more about re-election and moving up the Congressional leadership ladder than serving the interests of the constituency.

More and more members of Congress have resorted to mailed surveys and social media, and not just in the past COVID year, rather than in person town halls. They purchase data to see what the mood of the voters is and move to that position.

They can be for something this term, and against it next. Through generalizations rather than straight forward answers, they can justify any vote … remembering where the voter’s mood is at the time. A windsock has no commitment or deep passion.

If a member of Congress knew that they could only serve for X number of years rather than make a career of being in Congress, I believe that they might focus on issues and outcomes, rather than re-election.

Until the majority of citizens become fed up with how we elect our representatives, neither of these two points will change. If we want to be a government of, by and for the people, and not the corporations or the career politicians, we must change the dynamics.

Now retired, Bill Bailey is retired of Seymour and a former Seymour city councilman, mayor of Seymour, state representative and president of the Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce. He is a current resident of Seymour. Send comments to [email protected].