Power, Corruption and Term Limits

We have written before in The humans we call gods about the toxicity we experience from power and fame. Lets investigate the depth of this issue and how term limits might help.

Jon Stewart with David Axelrod

Jon Stewart has interviewed and spoken to as many politicians and media personalities as anyone. What he has to say about the delusions of those folk and the people in their circle should be illuminating. In “The Axe Files”, hosted by David Axelrod at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics, Jon Stewart had this to say to an audience of students in the video below.

When asked what he though about Hillary Clinton he said “[she’s] what I imagine to be a very bright woman without the courage of here convictions.”  John goes on to questioning the authenticity of Hillary Clinton before finally describing politicians and their circles as cults. Over time, for more than one reason, politicians become desensitized to the plights of the average citizen and sensitized to the requirements or lobbies of those who are in their circle. Many people recognize this, which is why Drain The Swamp became a rallying cry in the 2016 US Presidential election.

Barack Obama with Jerry Seinfeld

Jerry Seinfeld and Barack Obama meet up for Coffee. At 13:43 the conversation turns to the delusion of leaders. Its a topic close to Obama’s persona. Jerry invites him to comment but Barack turns the question back on Jerry and avoids telling about his own inner feelings.

Barack Obama’s hair has already begun to turn white, like other presidents before, indicating its time to go. The 22nd amendment of the US Constitution is meant to protect the republic from leaders and those within their circle who do not want to let go. Folk like Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe fit right into the category of leaders who do not recognize when the stasis they enforce is not helpful. They don’t recognize when its time to take a risk that could produce a big reward in fear of failure and loss of status.

Is Term Limits a Solution

An offered solution that may protect citizens from the corruption of deluded politicians is term limits. Voice For Liberty in Wichita gives arguments for and against term limits. Americas Quarterly asserts that Term Limits can Check Corruption and Promote Political Accountability

Look at and listen to your elected representatives who have already served multiple terms in office. You will see what we are talking about. Many are spouting a party line of narratives. Perhaps some of which they do not believe themselves. Their experience and their circle of influence limits the realm of possibilities they can conceive.

Whats Good about Youth and Inexperience

In the Soul of the New Machine by Tracy Kidder, two separated engineering teams are assigned to build a product for Data General Corporation in the 1970s. One team is made up of new college graduates who don’t know and are kept in the dark about what is thought to be possible. The second team of senior engineers, with experience in the existing system, are tasked with improving their product. In the end both teams produce a result but the young engineering team achieved the impossible.

The moral of the story is that nothing is impossible. Young idealists who believe in an outcome will invent ways to make it happen without the encumbrance of experience that tells them it cannot work. They will seek and they will find the path that leads to the innovation that those before did not find.

What about Experience

Experience leads to stability and stasis. Sometimes doing nothing is the right decision. A leader’s circle of influence is often invested in or benefit from maintaining the state of things the way they are. This describes the job they sign up for and how they are co-opted. Eventually however, experience leads to fear of making a change that might upset the apple cart or end with total failure. At that point the only motivation for meaningful change is a crisis or competitive challenge.

The “experience” excuse that many senior politicians give when confronted with the issue of term limits is quite easily answered by the many other roles that are available in public life after their term has ended. A mayor may become a representative, a congressman may become a senator, a senator may service in government administration. So its not an excuse at all. In corporations some employees are promoted out of the way. They call it “rising to the level of your incompetence.”

What Then…

Risks can be mitigated in many ways including doing nothing. However, risk taking is required in our fast changing world. In-action can result in being surpassed by others. A country and its economy is based on its operating system, that being its constitution. That constitution should permit the citizens to grow, Let the experienced enter new roles while the shock troops roll.

In the end multi-term politicians become paralyzed by delusions of grandeur which comes with power. Then they become like a deer in the headlights of an oncoming truck who don’t know which way to run. They can seem like a quarterback who is afraid of throwing an interception and end up being sacked. They and their circle of influence become afraid to take risks even while a whirlwind of change swirls around them.

Its a point of view.