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In My Opinion
In A Blink, Campaign Season Ends.... and Begins!
Editor
Wednesday, November 7, 2012 • Posted November 7, 2012

For over two years, there have been media reports, advertisements, emails and commentary. For over half of the term of the President, there has been an active campaign to unseat him (though many would say that began on the day after the last presidential election in 2008).

Presidents are elected for four years, senators for six and Congressmen for two. Almost from the day they take their oaths of office, they are already putting together staff, pollsters and campaigns to be reelected for another term. The only group that is term-limited is the Executive Branch, wherein the President is limited to two terms. Congress has no such limits, so Representatives and Senators can hold their offices for life until the voters decide to end the run.

I've heard people suggest that we should limit members of Congress to a set number of terms; but, that would require Constitutional changes. Additionally, we never seem to notice that it might be our Congressional representatives that need to be voted out of office, always certain that those in other districts or other states are the problem.

Some states do have term limits for Governor and statewide elected officials. Of course, that only applies to their state representatives, state senators and governor, in now way affecting the federal guidelines for national office. Texas, as can be ascertained by looking at our top elected offices and the incumbency period of most of those officials, does not term limit its highest offices.

Many European nations have a system that allows for experienced legislators to remain in service, while addressing the less tasteful aspect of elections, the campaigns. In Germany, most local and state elections only allow advertising for a brief period prior to the election. Italy and France limit campaigns to only a few months prior to the elections. Great Britain considers anything outside of one year to be in bad taste.

Our American system of campaigning allows candidates to actively solicit donations, and to campaign for public office, as far in advance of the elections as the candidates deem practical. As stated, some of those campaigns literally are put into place on the day after the winners of the election are announced and the respective parties begin planning and plotting on how they might shift the balance of power in the next round of voting.

I found it interesting that, in this paper's political point-counterpoint discussions for 2012, there was one topic that both sides found common agreement upon and that both found in need of repair - campaign finance reform.

If candidates have to spend all their time raising money for their next run for office, especially if they are holding office, they are no longer able to pay attention to the job they were elected to do. Political campaigns, due to the high cost of advertising, pollsters, support staff, and offices, are extremely expensive ventures. The sad result is that elections are often influenced or won by the candidate with the biggest war chest. Rough translation - money can buy an election.

If money can buy or influence an election, what does that mean about the candidates? How can someone accept millions of dollars in campaign contributions without feeling some sense of obligation to those who were providing that funding? Whether it is face time with the elected official, access to their advisors, or even influence over the legislation moving through the process, having more money translates into more influence in government. With recent court decisions that equalize businesses and individuals in their right to make donations, that portends a time when only those with money will be able to have any influence upon the decisions being made by the same people for whom we've cast our votes.

On this Wednesday morning after the election, we now know who won most, if not all, of the races. By Thursday, we will see the responses from the losing sides in those races as they issue statements criticizing the job the winners are going to do, even before they have been sworn into office.

And, the campaigns will begin all over again. Some things really do last forever.

It’s all just my opinion.

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