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Sunday, November 7, 2021

Four-Year House Term?

 Richard Pildes at NYT:

The two-year House term has profound consequences for how effectively American government can perform — and too many of them are negative. A longer, four-year term would facilitate Congress’s ability to once again effectively address major issues that Americans care most about.

In nearly all other democracies, parliaments are in power for four to five years. Political scientists view voting as primarily the voters’ retrospective judgment on how well a government has performed. Four to five years provides plausible time for that. But the comparison with U.S. House members is even starker than focusing on the two-year term alone. In most democracies, members of parliaments do not have to compete in primary elections; the parties decide which candidates to put up for office. But since the advent of the primary system in the early 20th century, members of Congress often have to face two elections every two years.

Moreover, in most democracies, candidates do not have to fund-raise all the time to run; governments typically provide public financing to the political parties. The two-year term, combined with primary elections and the constant need to raise funds individually, generates exceptional turbulence and short-term focus in our politics.