A quick note about the following, this was written in March 2002 before the passage of the McCain-Feingold bill and many of the politicians mentioned have since met their maker (in the political sense) but I include this unchanged to illustrate the spirit of what I hope will be future submissions like this one (the odd use of language and the opening false modesty are an attempt to mimic closely Swift's original Modest Proposal)
There comes a time in the development of every great nation where it faces the challenge of how to strive towards greater collective greatness. The United States hangs at one such moment. Though my name is not well known, my opinion pieces have appeared in many major newspapers and magazines, and though I may not be the most illustrious authority on the body politic, I am considered one of the more cogent commentators by those who truly care about our beloved land. Despite being ignored by vast numbers of power brokers and common folk alike, I am certain that my insights into how to better our condition are valid. I submit this modest proposal anonymously. Not as you might think, to protect my identity, but rather I offer this without claim of authorship because great ideas spring from a collective authorship and as such do not require attribution.
The McCain-Feingold bill before Congress strives to address some of the fundamental ways in which money has corrupted the political system. The corruption runs deeper than mere dollars and cents (or sense for that matter). Any sensible person can see that the corrosive filth of moral turpitude permeates most acts by those at the highest levels of our federal government. At the core of this depravity is not money, that is only a symptom, at the center is the political animal’s overwhelming need for self preservation. Nearly all politicians place there own re-election above the needs of their constituents. The needs of those that elect these leeches in red power ties or red power blouses are served only when they coincide with acts that serve to help preserve the power of these bloodsuckers. This must change. If my modest proposal should be adopted, this will change. Terminal limits will be the agent of that change.
Traditional solutions are often the most elegant solutions. I offer a most traditional solution to this modern problem. There is a great deal of archeological evidence that suggests many Northern European cultures prior to the Agricultural Revolution practiced ritual regicide. For a brief description of this practice please read Joseph Campbell’s Occidental Mythology, and for those of you to lazy to do so I will give you an even briefer description of my own. The leader of a tribe would be chosen from those able to lead, and would lead for a term of eight to ten years, at the end of this term, an ecstatic state would be induced and the leader would offer his body as sacrifice, often flaying himself to pieces bit by bit spreading his flesh and blood across the fields to ensure the tribes continued prosperity and the fertility of the crops. This ritual has three main benefits. It brings the community together, recognizing both the power and mortality of those that are chosen to lead. The spectacle and horror of the moment reminds everyone that there are no gains without losses, and that any leader willing to ask others to risk their lives should be willing to give his or her own. Finally, the previous generation without hesitation, doubt, or later second-guessing gives way to new leadership. Any reasonable patriot can see the lessons the past holds for the present. This pre-historic way can be wedded to our current system without too great of an effort.
In the beginning we should limit the scope of this program of what I shall term ritual politicide. The president, and both houses of congress would be the only people who would be allowed the honor of offering themselves as sacrifices to the future. Presidents would be expected to flay themselves, possibly in the rose garden, or maybe in the reflecting pool at the National Mall, after two full four-year terms. Anyone who does not get elected to a second term would not be worthy of sacrificing. In the case of vice-presidents who served a portion of a term, they would also be allowed to sacrifice themselves only after the completion of two terms as the elected president. Any candidate who is rejected by the voters, or chooses not to run, for a second term would no longer be eligible to be president, no more split term presidents like Grover Cleveland. As for Congress, in the house, five two-year terms would be the terminal limit for members of the House of Representatives. Again, like with the president, anyone who chooses to escape the fate of those that serve ten years in the house, will forever there after be ineligible to serve in the House, though they would retain their eligibility for either the Senate or the presidency. In the senate two six-year terms would be the terminal limit and again anyone choosing not to run for a second term, or fulfill the obligations of their position (self-sacrifice) shall no longer be eligible for that position in any state of the union (though each state would retain the right to have their own rules regarding whether these people would be allowed to run for statewide offices). Given the likelihood that many individuals would be expected to sacrifice themselves every two years, some collective ceremony, near the Capitol building naturally, would be appropriate, possibly involving flaying or self-immolation.
The effects this program would have on the political process seem obvious. Only those with the truest devotion to their ideals and their community would choose to serve. The steady introduction of fresh blood into the political system would keep the thinking processes of our politicians fresh. No more Strom Thurmonds, Jesse Helms, Robert Byrds, Dick Gephardts, Maxine Waters or Edward Kennedys. Regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, you must surely recognize that these people, though they may have made contributions after the time that they would have been terminally limited under the proposed system of ritual politicide, our nation would have benefited more from new perspectives rather than the fossilized ideologies of walking dinosaurs.
I can hear the arguments now, “how horrible, how barbaric” to which I say nothing is more horrible than watching those that have no true convictions send others to die in battle fields or gas chambers, I’d rather see nearly crazed zealots run our political system rather than heartless weasels tearing at the fabric of our society. “How does this help with corruption” to that I say those willing to die are far harder to corrupt, these would be people without a monetary price, without thought to self-preservation of either the physical or political kind, and for me those are the people I would be willing to follow. “How about their families” that is an easy one, these would be the most honored and revered people in our society, would that not be the best possible legacy to leave to one’s loved ones. “How come no place else does this” well, as with the first American Revolution, sometimes we must lead the world to show others a better way, a possibility, a dream.
This modest proposal may be no more than a dream. But who can forget Jefferson’s admonition that the streets should run red with the blood of tyrants every twenty years or so. Many believe he meant this metaphorically, but some metaphors are meant to be real, to be made flesh and blood. Given the accelerated pace of society it is perfectly logical to speed up the frequency with which these rivers of blood should flow. This process would allow more than blood to flow, it would allow the sweet fruits of prosperity to flourish under a federal political system devoid of self indulgent fools, and instead we would find ourselves with a federal system full of the finest, fittest and most sincere patriots that our country could produce. When Winston Churchill said, “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat” he probably did not know that eventually that would precisely what would be extracted from our politicians, but for the sake of our nation and our future that is exactly what we must demand.