Monthly Archives: January 2013

Term Limits in Congress?

From time to time, someone in Congress asks that the Constitution to be changed so that Presidents could be elected to more than two terms, thus repealing the 22nd Amendment.  This is recently exemplified by Congressman Jose Serrano (D-NY) who did the very thing early in January.  He actually has good experience in calling for such a proposal.

dingell_official-thumb-200x280-43What about calling for term limits on members of Congress? As of today, nine Congressmen have been in office for over 36 years.  Congressman John Dingell (D-MI) (pictured) has been in office for over 57 years.  Two Senators have been in office for over 36 years as well.  Congressmen and Senators can serve in office for unlimited elected terms.  Congressmen serve two year terms, while Senators serve six year terms.

Fifteen state legislatures have term limits.  Thirty-six governors are limited as well.  Why not Congress? After the 1994 Republican Revolution in Congress, where the GOP won both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years, reform-minded Congressmen put term limits to a vote.  The vote was in the form of a Constitutional Amendment in 1995.  It failed.  Then three other versions of term limit legislation failed in the House.  After all, it would very difficult to pass a bill in the House, where you are asking the members themselves to support something that would put them out of work.

Some believe that term limits would bring a new face and new vision to the legislative body.  With that new vision comes new ideas.  Others say that term limits would unfairly limit the terms of those Congressmen and Senators who are doing a decent job for their constituents.  It is sort of like saying that you wouldn’t want to throw out the good with the bad.

As for Congressman Serrano?  He has been in office since 1993.

What are your thoughts on limiting the amount of terms a Congressman or Senator can serve?  How many terms would you limit them to?

Push Polling En Vogue in South Carolina

During last year’s election cycle, we all were inundated by public opinion polls that supposedly gauged how people were going to vote for President, Senate, House, and Governor.  In each of these cases, scientific polls were conducted to get those poll results. When you see polling companies such as Gallup, Rasmussen, Pew and the like, you know that the poll is credible.  You may not agree with their findings, but what you do get at the very least is a scientific method used to gather information.  The practice of push polling, however, is not credible and certainly not scientific.

A push poll is not a real poll.  In fact, those who conduct a push poll are not concerned about the data gleaned from their surveys.  A push poll is conducted in an automated fashion over the phone.  The goal of a push poll is to put a rumor or false inference in the mind of the person who answered the phone.  It designed to sway voters from one candidate to another.  To the untrained voter, they may believe the push poll is a scientific poll.  However, scientific polls usually do not ask questions such as, “Would you be more or less likely to vote for John McCain…if you knew he had fathered an illegitimate black child?


(Photo:  AP Photo)

This question was asked of primary voters in South Carolina in 2000 regarding then-Presidential candidate John McCain and his non-Caucasian daughter.  The daughter was not black, nor was she illegitimate.  She just happened to be adopted from Bangladesh.  Using such racially coded language could stir up emotions in voters from a state such as South Carolina.

Supporters of then-Governor George W. Bush were have said to be the source of the McCain question.  Those who engage in push polling typically do not leave their calling card as to the identification of the push poll’s source.  They are negative in nature and are designed to destroy political campaigns.  The voter who answers the phone is left questioning the validity of what they just heard.  Push polls are not valid in any shape or form.

With a special election taking place this March, the voters in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District are now receiving push poll phone calls regarding a few of the candidates.  This Real Clear Politics story elaborates a little more on push polling in the 1st Congressional District and on the practice of push polling itself.  For a list of the candidates running for the seat once held by newly appointed US Senator Tim Scott (R), look no further than this site.

After reading the RCP story, what are your thoughts in regards to push polls?

The 60 Minutes Interview

New60minutesThe overnight preliminary ratings are in for the Sunday, January 27th episode of 60 Minutes.  That’s the episode where Steve Kroft interviewed both President Barack Obama and outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  About 11.5 million people tuned in.

Some added perspective should be noted in regards to Sunday’s pre-recorded interview.  When 60 Minutes was the #1 ranked show on television from 1979-1980, it averaged 28.5 viewers a week.  The difference between 28 million and a little over 11 million viewers is quite substantial.  Furthermore, the Obama/Clinton Sunday interview beat out the NFL Pro Bowl, an all-star game that has little significance, in the 6pmCST hour by roughly half-million viewers.  What do you attribute the drop off in television viewers from 1980 to today?  Did you watch the 60 Minutes interview?  If so, what did you think of it?

The Importance of the Invisible Primary

The invisible primary is the period when an individual files FEC (Federal Election Commission) paperwork to run for President and when the first voting primary takes place.  The earlier a candidate announces his/her candidacy, then the potential to raise a significant sum of money becomes greater.  The invisible primary is also a period where potential candidates gauge their level of popular support by not only how much money they raise but also by how many people can recognize their names.
The new year has just started, but already potential candidates for President have been mentioned in the press and in public on several occasions.  Among those being named are Vice-President Joe Biden (D), former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D), and US Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL).  All are recognizable and have the ability to raise money.  No one has announced this early in the game, but would you be surprised if someone did?  What are your thoughts?  When is it too early to announce yourself as a candidate for President?  On the other hand, when is it too late?

Current Events Quiz

This week’s quiz is live in MySearchLab.  Good Luck!

Third Parties Lack Votes Not Creativity

The United States is two-party system, meaning that in an election, one of two parties will have the best chance of winning almost every time.  This has been true since the birth of this country’s political parties when the first two parties, the Democratic-Republicans and the Federalists, vied for public support.  This does not mean that there aren’t other parties competing in the electoral arena.  Third parties have sprouted up from time to time and have influenced electoral outcomes at the federal, state, and local levels.

However, victories have been few and far between for many third parties in the United States.  This is due to in part to formal rules and informal practices that hinder the chances of a third party succeeding.  A formal rule deals with ballot access.  In order to gain access to a ballot, third parties must gather an inordinate amount of signatures on petitions in comparison to their major party counterparts.  These rules differ between states and have been created by members of the state legislature who, alas, belong to one of the two major parties.  An excellent website that describes how ballot access laws work in the United States can be found at Richard Winger’s Ballot Access News site.  Another example of a formal rule is one that is set up by the federal government during the Presidential elections.  In order for third party Presidential candidates to receive federal funding for their Presidential bid, the third party candidate from the previous Presidential election must have received 5% of the popular vote.  Five percent also ensures equal ballot access protections for third party candidates (i.e. automatic ballot access).  However, no third party candidate has received more than 5% since Ross Perot in 1996.  No third party candidate received 5% in 2012.  Libertarian Gary Johnson received 1% of the popular vote.  Therefore, third party candidates in 2016 already start their Presidential bids at a ballot and monetary disadvantage.

An informal practice that stunts the growth of third parties is that our nation’s history has always been a two-party system.  It is what the public is used to.  From the Democratic-Republicans vs. Federalists to Democrats vs. Whigs and Democrats vs. Republicans, the country’s pedigree eliminates the need for third party involvement in the political process.

What can third parties do to compete on a somewhat level playing field?  At the state level, third party candidates have turned to humor and unconventional ads to promote their political messages.  Here are two examples:

In this 2009 ad, two actors portraying then-New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine (D) and Chris Christie (R) find themselves trapped on an escalator.  Only Chris Daggett, Independent for Governor, can save the day.  The ad won award in 2010 for its creativity.  Daggett, who won the endorsement of the largest newspaper, the Newark Star-Ledger, finished with 5.8% of the vote.  Christie won the election.

Musician/Actor/Entertainer/Businessman Kinky Friedman ran a spirited campaign for Governor of Texas in 2006.  Friedman’s Independent campaign, modeled after Jesse Ventura’s successful 1998 bid for Governor of Minnesota, was as colorful as his professional and personal background.  Friedman finished fourth with 12.43% of the vote, behind Rick Perry (R), Chris Bell (D), and another Independent, Carole Keeton Strayhorn.  A candidate from the Libertarian Party finished fifth.  

What from these commercials would appeal to an undecided voter who may be considering a vote for a third party candidate?  These commercials may be unconventional, but are they too unconventional, in that they may turn voters off because of their style?  Should more commercials like these be produced by third party candidates to help gain interest in their campaigns?

After all, the two-party system is tough to crack.  Third party candidates need any advantage that they can create for themselves.

For more information about the creators of the ads, please visit the site for North Woods Advertising.

Federalism

In late 2007, a call amongst conservatives rang out for a Fred Thompson for President candidacy.  Thompson, a former Republican United States Senator from Tennessee and character actor from such television and movie ventures as Law & Order and Die Hard 2, answered that call and ran for the Republican nomination for President in earnest in late 2007.  Despite the ballyhoo surrounding his entrance into the race, Thompson’s campaign sputtered along and by the end of January 2008, his campaign ended.

The following video is one of a series of talking point vignettes that were designed to introduce Thompson to the public who might have been unfamiliar with his political views.  This video deals with  the topic of federalism.  Federalism is the sharing and distribution of power and resources between the federal government and the states.  You can also add “…and the local governments” when you discuss the separation of powers between the levels of government.  In the video, Thompson speaks from a decentralist point of view.  This view contends that the Constitution is a compact among the sovereign states which gave the central government a limited framework to work from.  Those who oppose such a framework would be centralists.  Centralists see the Constitution as the supreme law of the land and that the states are not the representative of the people.  Centralists claim that the representative of the people is the national government.  Take a listen to what Senator Fred Thompson has to say on the matter of federalism.

Where do you stand on the idea of federalism?  What are thoughts on what Fred Thompson had to say in 2007 about federalism?  How do they relate to what is happening in the United States today?