Watching the battle on Capitol Hill last week reminded me once again how desperate we are for real leadership in our nation's capitol. While many have been willing to assign blame and offer the blow-by-blow details of the left-vs.-right fight, not too many have pointed out the larger problem. Our current "leaders" in Washington are making "deals" and signing bills that have never even been looked at by the American people. Forget accountability to constituents, these guys aren't even reading the bills themselves. They are using political theater and scare tactics to ram through big spending bills and then acting as if they deserve credit for averting disaster. I guess that's one way to run a country. However, I think most Americans would rather see a different approach.
I believe the real fight is between the political class and the working class: the ruling elites are entrenched on one side, and the American people are taking the punches on the other. Well, it's time the American people fight back; it is my firm belief that most Americans are tired of an out-of-control government and the double talk that comes from the career politicians who have put us in this fiscal tailspin with no clue of how to correct course.
For 59 years, two men have occupied the U.S. Senate seat now held by South Carolina's senior senator, Lindsey Graham. In fact, the end of his current term will mark 20 years in Washington for Sen. Graham. Of course, 20 years of "service" isn't enough for Lindsey Graham, as he has already announced his intention to stay in the Beltway for at least six more years. The question I have for those who have served in Washington for 20 plus years is simple: how do you effectively represent people you haven't worked with or lived beside for more than 20 years?
It has not always been that way. Until 1913, state legislatures around the country chose their senators. The 17th Amendment ushered in the direct election of senators in an effort to give the people a voice. However, it also gave rise to powerful special interests and gave us the lifetime politician. Some have suggested we simply return to the model of legislative appointments to the U.S. Senate. Perhaps that's one idea worth exploring, but I think there is a better answer: term limits.
Term limits would not only cap the number of years a specific person would serve in Congress, it would limit the power of lobbyists, corporations, and other special interests that invest millions of dollars in the status quo. This unholy alliance with career politicians largely mutes the voice of the people. The reality is, even well-intentioned public servants become bogged down in the process of deal making, vote swapping, and bringing home the bacon to remain in touch with the needs and desires of the people they represent.
Today, countless Americans have lost faith in our government. More specifically, I believe most Americans have lost trust in elected officials and the Washington, D.C. establishment. I often ask people I meet if they trust this government. The answer is almost always an emphatic no. Establishment politicians cannot be trusted with our tax dollars and our e-mail or phone records, and they certainly cannot be trusted with our healthcare. While the ruling class works to gain favor with the Beltway crowd, who is looking out for the American people?
I have not lost hope. I believe we can fix the mess in Washington, but we need the right tools to make it happen. Term limits are a great place to start, but we also need bold leadership to make it happen.
As a conservative, I know term limits are a powerful issue. However, I believe people of every political stripe realize the need to rein in career politicians and limit the power that has corrupted our political system. I am running for the U.S. Senate to work for reforms that will offer a framework for solving problems both today and in the future.
We have the support and the political will, now we need the leadership. As a member of the U.S. Senate, I would vote to limit members to two terms. We can make term limits a reality, but, first, we must term limit these career politicians at the ballot box.
Nancy Mace is the first woman to graduate from the Citadel. She is running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Lindsey Graham.