October 4, 2018
By William Medici
Would Congressional Term Limits Help End Political Gridlock?
Darwin’s theory of evolution has been debated ad nauseam for over a century, and because it is rooted in scientific analysis, evolution has been universally accepted as fact. When the founding fathers established the framework of our country and separated church from state, they were not discounting a person’s faith, on the contrary, most of them were deeply faithful, it was because they understood the difficulties that came about when state and religion were intertwined.
Business has abided by the same principle. Companies evolve or die. The “faith” investors have in a specific company is very much rooted in rigorous analysis and facts. The evolution for some companies begins with an idea, a business plan and a lot of hard work. And for the ambitious, the plan is to grow and scale significantly and take the company public and/or to sell it.
Some of these ambitious companies like Uber or Facebook have evolved very little since they were launched, particularly when compared to IBM or GE, both of which had to evolve substantially over the last 100 plus years. Beretta, the Italian-based firearms manufacturer which has been in continuous operation since 1526, make GE and IBM seem like mere start-ups. Beretta’s success, like IBM and GE, has been their ability to adapt and evolve over time.
We know that a company’s CEO steers the ship, and when their strategy is off the mark, the board of directors is there to help right it. When a CEO fails to meet his/her fiduciary responsibility to the company’s shareholders then the board is obligated to fire the CEO. This happens down the line at the company, if someone is not performing, the company has the right to let that person go.
Our federal government was supposed to have the same kind of checks and balances in a way: the executive branch’s ideas are checked by the legislative branch who’s laws are checked by the judicial branch. Over time, this process has not evolved and has allowed special interests, both outside the government and inside it to game the system which has helped to create gridlock.
After Franklin Delano Roosevelt won an unprecedented fourth term, Congress passed the Twenty-Second Amendment to limit the executive branch to a two-term limit. Yet, Congress does not have the same restriction. They will tell you: ‘if you do not like someone, then vote them out.’ This is a smokescreen, because the data indicates that incumbents win their reelection bids on average over 80% of the time – a fact. This is exactly why congress wanted to change the term limits to the president – FDR kept winning.
Unlike the political class, there are no campaigns where employees go to the polls to vote for, say the VP, of Marketing or Manager of Production, etc. Promotions are typically based on merit and performance. Congress is not performing, and they should not be able to continue holding their jobs if they don’t deliver results.
If the POTUS has term limits, why not institute term limits for both Congress and the Senate? Like the president, they will get a maximum of two-terms to get things done before they have to return to the private sector. Lifetime politicians have not helped us. Sure, you may like your congressperson or senator, but what has that got you? Doug Collins was well-liked in Chicago, but he never won a championship. He was fired and replaced by Phil Jackson who went on to coach the Bulls to six championships.
The inertia that that has become our body politic should remind Americans of every political persuasion that the system needs to be adjusted. Our current political process has not evolved to match the demands of today – a fact. Businesses need to pivot, change and evolve in order to survive and so does America.
William Medici is an entrepreneur, adviser, writer & producer, media contributor and philanthropist.