Slider: Klaus, Perhaps you misunderstood my point...
Not really... I just couldn´t hold my sarcasm before it sunk its teeth into your leg... It´s just playing
, you know...
Slider: I'd like to see term limits so that the incompetent rich guys WILL get pushed OFF the stage, allowing real citizens the ability to take back their government. It's become a career for them, one that enriches their pockets at the expense of others.
I think that´s a solid argument. I know it´s difficult to make major changes.
We´ve got our own problems, but all in all I think our system isn´t too bad:
Instead of focusing on the individual politician, it´s based on the political parties; The parties get public financing proportional to their electoral success. This makes them largely (but not totally) independent of other sources of income. The rest still comes from donations (predominantly for the big-money-friendly parties) or from membership fees and commercial activities (as in the case of the social democrats).
have career politicians, but most of them were never rich and they won´t get rich through their office (although salaries for public office are not exactly bad). Most politicians are lawyers or public servants in "civil life".
Since the parties play a much larger role in the political process, there is much more consistency and continuity and a stronger focus on the issues. Some politicians do indeed become entrenched in their office (Helmut Kohl being a not-so-brilliant example), but they cannot carry on without being supported by both their party and their voters.
And I think that actual experience
is a good thing
in a politician who´s expected to deal with complex administrative and planning issues above all. You can´t just "wing it" all the time as an unexperienced newbie. And doing major reform surgery can
take more than one or two terms as we´re seeing in Germany right now. I think it can
make sense to keep the same team at it if they can convince the public.
The private lives of politicians are usually strictly off limits for the press, unless they themselves choose to make it public. It is certainly due to cultural differences as well, but I think the missing fixation on the person of a politician has turned out to be a blessing all in all. I know some people think they can gauge a politician´s qualities for office by his private life, but that´s apparently not the case from what we´ve seen over here. (The whole Clinton scandal was more a "scandal scandal"; If Starr hadn´t started a public witch hunt Clinton and Ms. Lewinsky would have hurt absolutely nobody except maybe the feelings of Hillary (but without the drawn-out public humiliation so celebrated by Starr et al). JFK
screwed anything in a skirt and nobody thinks he was a bad president because of that. It´s not so much that the presidents
have changed but the public environment
, it seems.)
I certainly won´t advocate a one-to-one adaptation of our system in the USA (it´s flawed as well in several points), but maybe some of the basic tenets or your system should
be re-assessed. Some problems it tries to address may not be that relevant (any more) and others may need more attention than originally anticipated.
Reducing the stifling influence of "interested" campaign contributions and of personal wealth does
look like a good start, in any case...