Thursday, January 7, 2010

Against Permanent Senators


As hilarious as this post was, the idea that every Senator ought to be carried out of their seat in a pine box is a little crazy. While there are specific Senators—Ted Kennedy comes to mind—that have made the country better by staying in the world's most dysfunctional body for decade after decade, the general culture wherein elected officials hold office for as long as physically possible isn't particularly good for America. The near-doubling of tenure on the Supreme Court has been well noted, but the trend is the same in both the House and the Senate. Advances in medicine, relatively easier travel, and increased reliance on staff all make it easier for members to function well past their prime. Politics already tends to trail public opinion, and the increase in Congressional longevity is leaving our elected bodies whiter, older, more male, and more conservative than they would otherwise be.

Byron Dorgan's 67 years old. In a number of professions, he would be retiring late. But in the sick world of Washington, he's supposed to hold his seat until the day he dies. I may not like John Hoeven's politics, but surely reducing the average age of the Senate by 0.15 years is a step i nthe right direction.
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