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Single terms for all offices

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
The discussion in the election thread reminded me of this article I wrote last winter, so I thought I'd post it and give everybody a chance to tear it to shreds. This plan would, of course, require a Constitutional Ammendment.

Plan for the Reorganization of National Officeholders Terms of Service

All terms of service will be for one term only. The lengths of terms are as follows:

1) House of Representatives: three years
2) Senate: six years
3) President and Vice President: five years
4) Supreme Court: twelve years
5) Cabinet: three years

The House and Senate will replace one-third of their members at each election. Elections for the House will be held every year; for the Senate every other year. The most senior legislators will serve in the posts of majority and minority leaders and committee chairmanships. This will place people of experience in those posts, but they won’t be there long enough to gain the sort of power over the business of Congress that they have today.

With the election for President and Vice President occurring once every five years, their election will coincide with the House elections one cycle and the Senatorial elections the next cycle. A person who has been Vice President can run for office as President, but not in the next election (i.e. not consecutively.)

The Supreme Court will have a new justice appointed every year. The most senior justice will serve as Chief Justice. With the incumbent President appointing a new justice each year for five years, no one sitting President will be able to appoint a majority of justices. And of those he appoints, they'll be junior justices while he's in office, and their aggregate influence on the Court will wane year by year for the next five years following the appointing President's term.

One-third of the Cabinet will be replaced each year by Presidential appointment. With a President in office five years, some of the previous administration’s cabinet officers will be retained into the new administration. With the frequent turnover, Cabinet appointments won’t require the “advise and consent†of the Senate.

This plan addresses the following problems:

1) undue influence upon the affairs of government by lobbyists and campaign contributors. Since legislators don’t run for re-election, they don’t have to worry about raising money once in office, and shouldn’t be swayed by big-money contributors.

2) excessive power held in the hands of one party. With the staggered election cycles, and the short duration of powerful posts, no one party is likely to have an undue influence upon the affairs of government for any considerable period of time. And with the parties looking for new candidates for the next election, they won’t have undue influence upon members of their parties currently in office.

3) a Supreme Court molded in the image of one President which extends indefinitely into the future. Justices retire after twelve years, and the Chief Justice is in that position for only one year. Each new President appoints less than a majority of justices and after seven years out of office the justices appointed by that President begin retiring. But the justices appointed by the previous President remain sitting while the next President is in office. These two factors prevent any one President from having an undue influence upon the Supreme Court.

4) career legislators. Since a person can only be in office for one term, we’ll get back to the concept of “citizen legislators.†Any person in office will know they’re going back to private life and have to get a real job again, which should keep them grounded and more in touch with what’s going on in the real world.

5) a President who gets told only what he wants to hear. Since some of his Cabinet officers aren't his appointments, they don't have any vested interest in not telling him what they really think.

(c) 2007, 2008 U.S. Freedoms Networks (that's me )


post #2 of 2
I like it but I'm not sure about the limiting the years for members of the cabinet. An incoming president is going to want to put his/her own advisors in there rather than being stuck with some of what is leftover from the previous administration. Also, depending on the particular administration there is often turnover before the sitting president's term is up. I do see your point though. Lincoln had a diverse cabinet that operated pretty much like you stated. He had a mix of former (and sometimes still scheming) political rivals as well as Republicans and Democrats which worked very well for him.

I don't a provision in there for my becoming emperor. Make me emperor and I'll put you in charge of health care.
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