How do we fix our broken politics?
It would not fully eradicate the problem, but a constitutional amendment providing for House members to serve four-year terms would ameliorate it considerably. Two years may have seemed like a long time to the Framers; but under the realities of modern politics and mass media, the two-year term scarcely allows a lawmaker to hang his or her hat before readying for the next campaign cycle.
Such an amendment would allow our representatives to spend less time looking over their shoulders at the next primary challenger kicking up dust in their home districts; to get off the money treadmill for the length of a cycle; to think a bit more; to reach across the aisle and compromise, for the sake of the greater good, with the opposite party: in short, to lead. Nor would the change disturb the Senate’s status as the upper chamber, as the senators’ six-year terms would still be longer.
To be sure, President Trump trampled practically every norm he encountered. He coarsened the political dialogue; I was there in the East Room when, celebrating his impeachment acquittal, he dismissed the original allegations of Russian collusion as “all bullshit,” the first time a president had ever uttered a public profanity in the East Room. And he deepened our partisan and intra-party divides—not inadvertently, but as a determined and, temporarily, winning strategy.
Yet anyone who would blame Donald Trump for the brokenness of American politics ignores the last half-century of our history and mistakes symptom for cause. It took us a long time to descend to the current state of barbarism in our political culture, and it will take more than Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, or a single presidential term, to return us to something more ennobled and effective.
James Rosen is a Washington correspondent for the Sinclair Broadcast Group, a New York Times-bestselling author, and a frequent contributor to The National Interest.