From USA Today:
Jeff Flake pledged during his first campaign for Congress in 2000 that if elected, he would serve three two-year terms. But the Arizona Republican is running again to keep his seat in the House of Representatives.
"It was a mistake to limit my own terms," says Flake, a conservative who has challenged Republican leaders on federal spending. He says the once-fashionable movement to limit terms in Congress has "just petered out."
Flake is one of at least seven House Republicans who had vowed to leave Congress next year but will be on the ballot in November. They ran as citizen legislators - antidotes for "career politicians." But after six or 12 years on Capitol Hill, they say they're just getting the hang of the job. None faces serious opposition because redistricting has protected incumbents.
Surprise, surprise. Republican backs-down from idealist campaign pledge when faced with reality. But it wasn’t just Flake who flaked-out on this, but apparently six other Republican liars. Sure, the “just getting the hang of the job” line was one that non-term-limiters had been saying at the time…and being ignored by the fantasyland Republicans like Flake, who insisted that “career politicians” were the problem. It’s hard to say if this is a case where Flake purposefully gave a bad pledge solely for the attack value, or if he really was foolish enough to believe that he’d bow-out after three terms; but that just gets us back to the Corrupt v. Incompetent question that continues to plague the Republican Party.
I remember discussing this stuff online years ago with conservatives who insisted that term-limits were moral and necessary for true democracy. I, on the other hand, argued that experience was a good thing and that term-limits were anti-democratic because they denied voters their true choice of candidates. I also believed that it would lead to lame-duck syndrome, where a politician stops giving a shit about the folks he’s representing and is more willing to make a power-grab before he leaves (ala President Bush). But the conservatives just weren’t having it and wouldn’t shut-up about the whole thing.
But no matter. That was then. This is now. And conservatives don’t seem to give a turd that they broke another promise and quietly altered a key tenet of their beliefs. Sure, they made a big stink of it at the time, but as Flake said, the movement “just petered out”. And I have no reason to believe that the same won’t eventually be said for the rest of the conservative movement. It was a fashionable thing that sounded good at the time, but really wasn’t quite so ready for the whole reality thing. It’s amazing how many things sound better when a smooth-talking radio-host is pontificating about it.
Bubbles for Everyone!
But again, this is par for the course. Because the longer Republicans stay in office, the longer they’ll realize that all of their theories are a pile of crap. Or they should realize that, whenever reality is forced onto them. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen nearly enough. Not just because their entire ideology is fantasy-based, but because of a devious system that allows them to forever stay in a bubble. With talk-radio, conservative news orgs like Fox News, Weekly Standard, etc., and diehard Republican-supporters who so dearly want to believe, it’s far too easy to stay out of touch with what’s going on around them. When you believe that everything is subjective and just a matter of proper marketing and belief, it’s impossible to even fathom that a true reality is waiting to crush you from the wings.
And of course, it helps that none of the seven GOP liars face serious opposition because redistricting has protected incumbents. That being one of the truly bi-partisan agreements in Washington as well as state capitals everywhere. Ironically, it is severe partisan attitudes which have created this bi-partisan lovefest for all things gerrymandered; but until a true ceasefire is declared on the redistricting front, it’d be foolish for one side to create representative districts when the other side does not. And I say that as a liberal living in an extremely liberal neighborhood in a liberal city, whose Congressman is a Republican from a somewhat conservative city eighty miles away. I can thank Tom DeLay and his numb-nutted goons for that one.
And so it makes sense that Bush is the leader of this movement. The Bubble People. People who can believe what they want, receive the input that helps them believe, and a somewhat corrupt political process that protects them from facing harsh realities. Even in this story, the only apparent repercussions for Flake are that an embarrassing news story was written. But it’s unlikely that he’ll face any further repercussions from his broken promise. Accountability is for suckers, apparently. But if there’s one thing about bubbles that I know, it’s that they’re extremely fragile and will pop violently and often without notice. As I’ve argued before, it’s just a matter of time until conservatives begin to grasp how sudden such things can happen.