Monday, June 28, 2010

Robert Byrd: 1917 - 2010

The title of this post should probably read RIP or something similar. But that's for someone else to write. I prefer to use the death and political career of Robert Byrd to try and score one of my favorite political talking points. And that talking point is the need for term limits. Term limits for our Senators and House Reps. A lifetime in public office is far too long.

Senator Byrd spent fifty-one of his ninety-two years in the U.S. Senate. And in my opinion that's thirty-nine years too many. Two six year terms in the Senate or six two year terms in the H.O.R. is enough for any man or woman to accomplish the goals they start out with. After that it becomes redundant.

Political family dynasties and congress members who serve for extremely long periods of time encourage corruption and poor representation. Fathers, Wives, Sons, Daughters, etc, swapping and holding seats in the House and Senate for year after year does not encourage a healthy Republic.

An example of a dynasty is the Kennedy family. They have ruled Massachusetts politics for over sixty years. Nearly three generations grew up thinking the seat in the Senate belonged to Ted Kennedy. It is still referred to as "Ted Kennedy's seat" in many political discussions. Well I have a news flash folks - the seat is currently occupied by Scott Brown or whoever the people of Massachusetts decide to elect. It should never be referred to as "belonging" to any one person.

When congress passed the twenty-second Amendment limiting to two terms the office of the Presidency it was for good reason. After being elected to four terms, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was to some (of that generation) the only President they had ever known. The office began to resemble something along the lines of being his as opposed to being an elected position. No politician should ever become so comfortable in politics. And - the Founding Father's original intention was for political office to be a public service and not a career.

Well Robert Byrd made his Senate service his career. The seat was his for the taking after serving for fifty-one years. And Byrd was accused more than once of using his position to punish political opponents who dared disagree with him. And being an incumbent makes it nearly impossible to vote out politicians no matter how corrupt they can and often do become. Political positions begin to resemble monarchy as opposed to elected office.

In his later years Senator Byrd was thought of as an "Elder Statesman" of the democratic party despite having been a member of the KKK as a younger man and having filibustered against the 1964 civil rights legislation the democrats now try and cloak themselves under. By and large it was with the support from the Republican party that passed the landmark bill. True bi-partisan support and not the fake bullshit Barry Omama drivels on and on about as he continues to divide America is NOT what we are currently seeing in congress or the Oval Office.

So before we deify him or place a crown of thorns on Robert Byrd's head remember what he represented and who he really was during his entire political career. He repudiated his time in the KKK because of political expediency as much as anything else. And we don't need to make him into some a political icon just because he lived to be ninety-one and tenaciously held on to his Senate seat for over half of his life. All I see here is a politically ambitious man who wielded too much power and served in the Senate for far too long. Term limits anyone?

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