Finished reading Nuttall’s Empire Corps series, currently 3 books. I found them interesting and enjoyable though I think there is more description and less story telling than I would prefer. However, in an afterword to the latest book *, Nuttall presents a series of recommendations, four of which are listed below. I went to his website to present my thoughts on the topic but could not find an appropriate place to do so. Failing that, I post my comments here. Nutall’s recommendations:
Term Limits: All politicians are to serve for short periods only (say, one five-year term) then leave politics forever.
Residency Requirements: All politicians are required to live in their constituencies for at least five years prior to running for office.
Pre-Election Jobs: Politicians may not run for office before a set age (for example, 30 years old) and must have had a non-political job beforehand.
No Legal Exceptions: Politician may not write laws that do not apply to them; conversely, they may not write laws that only apply to them.
I have complained for at least 20 years that there ought to be term limits as I became more and more frustrated with the incumbents. I would always add that the Framers never anticipated someone would want to make a career of public office, but I see now that my complaints were mostly a ‘get the bums out of office’ reaction. When I read Nutall’s first recommendation, though, I finally stopped to think about it. I’ll come back to it.
I agree with the residency requirements to attempt to assure election of someone familiar with the problems of the constituency but I wonder at the wording. I spent the first 17 years of my life in one city but then I spent the next 20 years roaming the world in a uniform. Would my first 17 years count? If not, why not? How do we monitor the activities of the folks backing candidates? A shadow government running the overt government seems a very real possibility.
Is there such a thing as a non-political job? Putting the whimsy aside, the experience gained earning a living ought to be applicable to trying to run the government.
Given the current state of affairs, the legal exceptions requirement is easily understood. The only privilege I see necessary is Article 1, Section 6.
After reading the above recommendations, the first question that immediately jumped to mind is why would anyone to do it? If you get one chance and no other reward; if you must give up your employment for five years and then must begin again – even if there was a guaranteed re-employment clause you would be five years behind your peers, why would you do it? What kind of person would do it and is that the kind of person we want running our government?
Add in the age requirement. The U.S. Constitution specifies a minimum age for some offices but those ages were established with the median life expectancy somewhere around 40 years. With life expectancy now somewhere over 70 years it’s no wonder we have folk who have been in office more than 40 years. With this recommendation, if the person achieved an advanced degree they could come to the election with far less than five years’ work experience, i.e., with so little job experience as to defeat the intent of the requirement.
“…and then leave politics forever.” With today’s media, can’t happen. As long they maintain their public interest, they will always be politicking, one way or another.
* When The Bough Breaks (The Empire’s Corps), Nuttall, Christopher (2013-02-12). Kindle Edition.