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Career Politicians – Good or Bad?

November 29, 2017

We live in a time were many of our elected representatives have become career politicians.  They spend a career competing in elections for ever higher offices.  In many cases a significant part of a politicians time is spent planning, strategizing and fund raising for the next election cycle.  This is an overhead of sorts that diminishes the the potential productivity and effectiveness of the politician.

There are advantages despite the overhead.  Like any other trade time and tenure increases skill and ability.  Time also allows for the development of an extensive political network.  In theory this improves the effectiveness of the political process.

There are also distinct disadvantages.  The cost of launching and  running a successful campaign is ever increasing.  This critical dependency on fund raising makes a politician vulnerable to wealthy contributors and lobbyists with there own political agenda – a big negative in a democracy.  Long tenure also holds the risk of entrenched opinions and policies at the expense of new and innovative thinking.  Tenured politicians with strong party ties tend to enhance an environment of competition at the expense of compromise – a hallmark of democracy.

Ideally one wants the advantages with less of the disadvantages.  The obvious thing to look at is more term limits along with campaign rules that limit the length of campaigns, contribution limits ( both individual and corporate).  The length of term limits needs to be debated and is a function of the particular office.  It seems clear that this is worthy of debate.

Photo by Boise Metro Chamber

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