Matt Fecteau: 1st Congressional District Should Consider Republican for Term Limits
I challenged Rep. David Cicilline for the Democratic nomination for Rhode Island’s first Congressional district. This November, no matter the party affiliation, voters should take a closer look at each of Rhode Island’s first Congressional district candidates before casting their ballots.
Some have argued that because Mr. Cormick Lynch is a Republican, he is not suited to represent a dark blue state like Rhode Island. As a progressive Democrat, I disagree with Lynch on a number of issues, though one key progressive issue sets him far apart from Cicilline: Congressional term limits.
Ironically, Republican Lynch is much more progressive than Democrat Cicilline in this regard. Mr. Cicilline opposes term limits for Congress and endorses the status quo. Through my interactions with Cicilline, staff, and supporters, the same tired excuse was always used: “I want to give people a choice.”
Congressman, how much did you pay your consultants to concoct this nonsense? Those same consultants are paid for by the lobbyists and special interest groups that got us into this mess in the first place.
Does Congressman Cicilline know that, according to a 2013 Gallup poll, 75% of adults nationwide support term limits. Looks like the choice has been made, and with an approval rating as low as Cicilline’s, maybe it is time for someone new.
What Cicilline meant by choice was: “You have a choice of me and only me.” Cicilline overcame a 14.8% approval rating to win election only after his pal, former Speaker of the House Gordon Fox, gerrymandered the Congressional districts. So much for choice, right Congressman?
Cicilline can now spend a majority of his money in the Democratic primary election and then coast to victory in the general election. Most people, with the exception of his entrenched supporters, do not vote in the primary, and Cicilline realized this. If anyone is responsible for the gridlock in Congress, it is people like Mr. Cicilline.
Term limits would make elections more competitive and create disincentive for Cicilline-ish gerrymandering. People like Mr. Cicilline will do anything to cling to power at the expense of our democracy.
It becomes less about the American people and more about vanity. We need to break career politicians’ hold on elected office. If not, we will be stuck with only out-of-touch career politicians rigging the political system to their benefit with few checks to their power.
This past election cycle, I lost, but only 21% of eligible voters turned out to vote. With the disproportionate influence of special interest groups and lobbyists, our political system continues to disenfranchise voters. Nothing gets done, disillusioning more voters. It is an ugly cycle.
Term limits would break that cycle. Any upstart challenger, such as myself, has a very difficult time unseating an incumbent because of the inherent nature of the office.
Typically, millions flood into the incumbent’s coffer. Along with the name recognition and rigged political landscape, any challenger faces an uphill battle. That is why we need term limits and why I agree with Lynch on this issue.
Like Cicilline, many special interest groups and lobbyists oppose term limits. After building a relationship with a member of Congress, they don’t want to build another nascent relationship from the ground up. After all, what would happen if a newly elected officeholder had ethics and morals?
How can someone look at Congress and not support term limits? According to Gallup, as of September 2014, Congress’s approval rating stands at a dreadful 14%. In addition, the 113th United States Congress — our current Congress — has been arguably the least productive in history, with only 184 bills signed into law (the fewest in recorded history thus far).
Cicilline is the poster child for ineffectiveness, considering out of a total of 30 bills he introduced, a grand total of zero became law. Go David, go! — as it says on a poster in his campaign headquarters.
Once elected to office, members of Congress have a reelection rate exceeding 90%. This is exactly the problem. It is a game of winner-take-all politics. Members of Congress can refuse to cooperate and merely wait for their own party to take power to get anything done. Unfortunately, that is a long wait because of the rigged political landscape.
In contrast to Cicilline, Lynch has come out in favor of term limits, and voters should be cognizant of this fact. I may not always agree with Mr. Lynch and will make that known, but an incremental improvement is better than no improvement at all.
Congressional terms limits are a great first step to addressing the gridlock in Congress, and as a progressive Democrat, I say: Mr. Lynch should be given careful consideration come November.
Matt Fecteau (MattforRI@gmail.com) was a Democratic congressional candidate for the first congressional district of Rhode Island, former White House National security intern, and captain in the US Army Reserve, with two tours to Iraq.