When the United Conservatives Fund (UCF) was founded, it was done so based upon three core tenets; decentralization, federalism, and a high moral tone. These are interconnected and necessary for a healthy community built upon inclusion.
It is unfortunate that society has allowed ourselves to be divided into cliques that root for the demise of those not in a preferred ‘club’. We are led by some who would rather create blocks and celebrate opponents stumbles than promote their own ideas honestly. The Leftist mob has used this unmercifully over the last few years to belittle and terrorize anyone who dares step out of line. Correspondingly, there has been a rise in the Right’s use of these same tactics. What used to be conducted as political whisper campaigns during elections are now out-and-out personal public attacks with little, if anything, to do with important policy proposals.
Want to knock someone down a notch? Call them a racist, write a snarky tweet, or create an untruthful and unflattering rumor. Then ride that negative creation for all its worth and ignore any discussion of the merits of policy. Increasingly, that’s how our politics works -or doesn’t work- and it is directly related to the political gamesmanship now openly celebrated among pundits.
Governance today is the equivalent of a grade-school playground without supervision.
When you get beyond the party labels, special interest associations and cliques it is common-sense working people whose beliefs are the prevailing wisdom. Unfortunately, these are also the same people who quickly turn-off the noisier aspects of modern politics and disengage.
UCF was founded to unite and give voice to those dismayed by the silliness that is today’s politics. The first meetings of our executive committee earlier this year turned towards how we might bring the disaffected back into the fold and increase public participation in the political process again. We want to do more than inspire people to show up to vote every four years, which is an abysmally low turnout. Rather, we want to convince people to look past the one-up political maneuverings and take a more vested interest in the details of policy between elections.
Over several weeks while communicating and getting feedback among many of UCF’s broad networks of people, our conversations kept coming back to the need for term limits as a means to begin dismantling the power structure that keeps people away from the machinations of their own government.
The creation of legislation has been compared to the creation of sausage. As the saying goes, people really don’t want to see how either are being made. But it’s high-time we started caring about the ‘political diet’ we are being fed by politicians and the army of lobbyist and bureaucrats who enable them.
When UCF announced the intention to spearhead a ballot initiative for term limits in Mississippi a few weeks ago, the political pundits, most of whom are beneficiaries from the political structure they defend, began to crank out their divisive drama yet again. Through it all the only thing close to an honest argument against term-limits I’ve heard is the idea that we need legislators with “experience,” or “institutional knowledge” of the legislative process.
However, as Ronald Reagan so aptly put it, “the only experience you gain in politics is how to be political.”
I think most people would agree that “experience” of this sort is what has gotten us into trouble and helped give Mississippi the distinction as the most corrupt state in the country. A power hungry alliance of the political establishment and their donors, and a growing divide between the well-connected and those they burden with regulation has given us a disengaged citizenry. In turn, corruption has worsened to a point that we are no longer surprised by it.
The time for term limits has come, and the majority of Mississippians know it. We are at a time and place in history that demands a more hands-on approach from the people. Limiting state legislators and statewide elected officials to two consecutive terms is only a start, but it’s a good start.
It isn’t overburdensome and doesn’t forbid participation by anyone, it requires no use of taxpayers money outside of printing the ballot initiative itself, and it will force elections to be less about personalities and financial favors and opens the door to true representative government.
We simply can no longer afford to allow the most powerfully connected in Jackson to run roughshod over the people for their own personal and political gain.
Keith Plunkett is the Policy and Communications Director for the United Conservatives Fund and sponsor of the term limits ballot initiative in Mississippi. Contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Keithplunkett