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One Woman's Opinion



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Can We Improve Government?

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Mary Wakefield Buxton

by Mary Wakefield Buxton

Urbanna, Va.— Like so many Americans, I’m disheartened by growing rabid partisan politics in America. At one time the two major parties seemed to be able to work together and compromise in order to solve problems. Today party partisans stick to party dogma like glazed-eye, goose-stepping soldiers and rarely even consider the other party’s ideas. The result not only has stymied work in Congress but has polarized the nation.

I didn’t reach this conclusion overnight; but after watching the Democrats and Republicans in Congress for the last 20 years in constant squabble mode. Perhaps I’m getting too old for witnessing the constant political fighting but the reality for most Americans is simply this: We see some truth on issues from both sides of the aisles. Why can’t politicians do the same?

What if the business sector behaved like politicians? Businesses have to work together, think out of the box and compromise to solve problems in order to meet the needs of customers. If they don’t . . . well, they quickly go out of business. Don’t I wish the same rule applied to politicians!

One glaring problem that most Americans agree on is term limits. We want to stop politicians from making a lifetime career of public office dug in their partisan holes and spouting their party dogmas. They live like princes, can become exorbitantly wealthy and gain so much power they are almost impossible to vote out of office. Would there be some way to set term limits on these “career politicians,” move them along after a few terms and let them go home and get a regular job like the rest of us! 

A few Sundays ago I met a group whose major goal is to set term limits in Congress. My husband and I visited Gauthier Vineyard in Barhamsville on a sunny, blue sky Sunday afternoon just outside of West Point to hear about the “Convention of the States.” This nonpartisan group hopes to use Article 6 in the U.S. Constitution, which allows a majority of 32 states to finally convene and pass legislation, if Congress will not act.

Their idea is that members of Congress will never set term limits on themselves. Too many live off the fame, power, special privilege and wealth of serving in Congress for years and years. Why would they give up such special status on their own volition? Thus, this group believes, we, the people, will have to set the term limits for them.

For many years setting Congressional term limits has been a major desire for many Americans unhappy with the present system. If the president is limited to 2 terms of office, then why shouldn’t Congressmen also be limited to perhaps 3 or 4 terms of office for the House and maybe 2 or 3 terms of office for the Senate?

I have often entertained the thought that term limits should also be set on years of service on the Supreme Court. When I read that elderly and ill justices well into their 80s actually nod off during court hearings, I wonder if setting a 20 or 25 year limit for their service might be a good idea. 

Other ideas discussed that afternoon for reforming government that would capture bi-partisan support might be setting a debt ceiling on the federal budget or ensuring that Congress never enacts a law for the people from which they exempt themselves (as it did with the Affordable Care Act). The age old adage certainly would apply: “What is good for the goose is also good for the gander.”

Another amendment that would offer non-partisan appeal would be stripping Congress members from exorbitant retirement pay and posh benefits that are far over what most other Americans receive. Congressmen have become too much in the “Fat Cat” league. We could return to the days when getting elected to Congress wasn’t the same as hopping on a lifetime gravy train supported by taxpayers, many who have to self-finance every penny of their own retirement programs. 

According to district chairman of the movement, Ross Beyer, 12 states have already approved the Convention of the States. When 32 states support the idea, each state will be given one vote (so big populated states like New York, Texas or California won’t have any more power than say Delaware or Rhode Island). The Virginia House has already approved the amendment several times but it has not yet passed in the Senate.

For those interested in hearing more about this plan, contact Russ Beyer at or call 804-218-1440.

©2017

Note: Want to read about the late Deltaville’s G. Edward Tabor’s exciting memories of landing in Normandy in 1944 to free Europe from the Nazis? Read Mary’s new book, “A Middlesex Morning,” tales of our local heroes, available at the Sentinel or Marshall’s Drug Store for $16. Email for more information.

posted 11.15.2017

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