Tags: president elect trump | mcconnell | paul ryan | term limits

McConnell, Ryan Board the Trump Train

Image: McConnell, Ryan Board the Trump Train

President-elect Donald Trump gives the thumbs up after a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on November 10, 2016. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

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Tuesday, 22 Nov 2016 03:40 PM Current | Bio | Archive

It appears the Trump-McConnell-Ryan honeymoon is over before the marriage was consummated.

Sure, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Paul Ryan made the right noises just after Trump’s astonishing victory. On the Senate floor McConnell said, "Speaker Ryan and I have had productive discussions with the president-elect last week and we're both looking forward to working with him."

McConnell was even ready to take on Obamacare: "It's pretty high on our agenda, as you know. I would be shocked if we didn’t move forward and keep our commitment to the American people."

Yes it’s been on Mitch’s "honey-do" list for almost a decade, just under "defund National Endowment for the Arts," "zero out PBS," and declare war on North Viet Nam.

I always had my doubts as to the durability of this menagerie of three. As 1 Corinthians 14:8 advises: "For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself for battle?"

And as McConnell has proven over the years his whoopee cushion call-to-action inspires neither his troops nor the voters. (For complete details on McConnell’s reluctance to fight for conservative principles see my earlier column here.)

Now that Trump is serious about "draining the swamp" and the denizens thereof, not only is a divorce in prospect — the fight over who gets custody of the GOP is going to be nasty. In a post-election interview with "60 Minutes," Trump declared, "We’re going to put on term limits, which a lot of people aren’t happy about, but we’re putting on term limits. We’re doing a lot of things to clean up the system."

When McConnell was asked later about Trump’s announcement, you’d have thought someone grabbed him by the privates. "I would say we have term limits now, they’re called elections. And it will not be on the agenda in the Senate."

Even The New York Times admits this is eyewash. "Opponents [argue] that arbitrary term limits would rob Congress of the institutional knowledge and expertise needed to conduct business and that voters had regular opportunities to end the service of their lawmakers. They don’t talk about how gerrymandering and the advantages of incumbency make it hard to defeat sitting lawmakers."

When you look at the nation’s trillions of dollars of debt, slow shuffle toward socialism, and increasing federal interference in private life, institutional ignorance starts to look pretty good.

McConnell and the rest of the time-serving incumbent barnacles on the ship of state are forced by the Constitution to endure elections in November. Consequently, incumbents do everything in their power to make sure those November encounters are the only time they face any real competition for "their" seats.

In the House, members aren’t chosen by voters until they first choose their voters. Through the redistricting process, House incumbents torture cartographers until a district is produced that packs as many favorable voters into the district as geography will allow. Typically in Virginia, districts protect incumbents of both parties, subject only to racial carve outs.

Incumbents beaten in November usually run afoul of presidential coattails or were so disliked at home that state legislators drew them a district they couldn’t win. A defeat then just swaps an establishment Republican for an establishment Democrat.

Where real change could be made in Washington is in primary elections, and McConnell knows it. That’s where incumbency rigs the outcome. Primary challengers rarely beat incumbents like McConnell because they are effectively smothered under a pile of cash.

Election choice is short-circuited by the difficulty challengers have raising money. Donors know that challengers rarely win, so supporting a loser means retribution when the incumbent returns to Washington.

Larry J. Sabato has analyzed incumbent losses in primary elections. Since 1980, in the Senate, there have been ten years in which no incumbent of either party was defeated in a primary. On the House side there have been 12 years in which 1 percent or fewer incumbents were defeated.

If 99 percent of the population were happy with the performance of Congress this wouldn’t be a problem. Remove one of the previous digits and you get Congress true approval rating.

Since Congress won’t level the primary playing field voluntarily, let’s recruit the calendar instead. No one beats the clock.

If two terms are enough for the president, the 12 years should be more than enough for legislators. Term limits is a winning issue among all voters except politicians. Trump is going to have to go this alone.

I suggest he start by holding rallies in McConnell’s home state and the states of other obstructionists. Trump owes Congress absolutely nothing while he owes the voters everything. Passing a term limits amendment is a great down payment on that debt.

Michael R. Shannon is a commentator, researcher for the League of American Voters, and an award-winning political and advertising consultant with nationwide and international experience. He is author of "Conservative Christian’s Guidebook for Living in Secular Times (Now with added humor!)." Read more of Michael Shannon's reports — Go Here Now.

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MichaelShannon
It appears the Trump-McConnell-Ryan honeymoon is over before the marriage was consummated.
president elect trump, mcconnell, paul ryan, term limits
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2016-40-22
Tuesday, 22 Nov 2016 03:40 PM
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