Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Citizen Leadership

In the days of the Roman Republic, there was a strong ideal of the citizen-leader. The most famous example is to be found in the story of the Roman general who left his home to lead his troops, then retired to his estate at the conclusion of his campaigns. The famed general Scipio Africanus, victor over Hannibal in the Punic Wars is a good example of this ideal. The Roman Republic also had a tradition of elected citizen leadership, whereby citizens were elected by their peers to serve, but were limited in the length of time so as to prevent any single citizen from gaining too much power.

While the Roman model is perhaps not the best one to follow, their ideals were sound. Mark Tapscott elaborates on that ideal today in the Washington Examiner, arguing that the United States needs a return to term limits for Congress so as to eliminate the professional politiican. DEfining the classes of politicians, Tapscott says in part,
Politicians in both major parties who repeatedly seek re-election to keep “bringing home the bacon” while feathering their own nests are careerists. Candidates in both parties who bring the real world to Washington to clean it up — and who can’t wait to return home — are citizen legislators.

Careerists thrive on the power, perks and prestige that come with being insiders. Until now, their power stemmed from a monopoly on information, which they selectively shared with the rest of us. Theirs is the world of old media, big impersonal institutions and spinning “experts.”

By contrast, citizen legislators thrive on the power of principle and the liberating independence that comes with being outsiders. Their power stems from their cultivation of information to the widest possible audience and the accountability that comes with such transparency. Theirs is the world of Internet-based new media and the collaborative networking that thrives there.

While I am not certain that the court system as presently staffed would allow such a term limit to succeed, I agree that we need to wrest power from the hands of hacks such as Ted Kennedy, Trent Lott, Robert Byrd and other career politicians. And Tapscott advances the idea that since the COnstitution allows the states to propose amnedments, we can render the ccourts powerless to stop term limitis if they are incorporated into the Constitution. After all, the Presidency has a term limit on it. Why not Congress as well? For that matter, why not add term limits for judges as well?

The current group of lawyers, fat cats and professional politicians have failed utterly to solve the nation's problems, succeeding only in running up enormous deficits and secretive earmarks, while taxes have become ever more onerous. Ronald Reagan famously declared that "Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem". We need more leaders like Reagan to help solve that problem- not more professional politicians.

Hat tip to Captain Ed Morrissey.

No comments: