20 February 2007

Resign to Run?

I'm really intrigued by the bill proposed by House Speaker John Harris that requires the governor, lieutenant governor, or a state senator to resign before running for a higher office. The reason I'm intrigued is that I honestly don't know what I think about it.

On the one hand, it's clear that it makes sense that people are best represented by office-holders who devote their full attention to the office they hold and candidates who devote their full attention to campaigning.

But it does strike me that this is sort of chasing the wrong issue. Politicians always have their eye on another office and have always been running for something. If we've made it this far, why change the system?

If you don't accept that (totally weak) argument, consider that even current office-holders are always running for re-election (perhaps a bigger problem on a national level but still true in Alaska) and so are always both an office-holder and a candidate for office. As a result, political considerations are always influencing policy decisions. I'd love to figure out how to sever that link (don't think it can be done, though). Barring that, let's at least try to reduce the amount of time spent campaigning, sort of like parliamentary systems do.

As for the argument that Harris is seeking to curtail Sarah Palin's political ambitions, I honestly don't have an opinion on that. But it does strike me as odd that the people making that claim are Democrats who know that some of their strongest candidates for Ted Stevens' job are current office-holders who might need to resign to pursue the seat.

At the very least, it's an interesting idea.


Anonymous said...

I said this elsewhere, but will repeat it here: The bill, if passed (I doubt it will be) would set up a bad double standard. Office-holders seeking re-election wouldn't have to resign before officially launching a re-election campaign. Overall, it would seriously tilt political power to incumbents, more so than power is already tilted that way.

First Alaskan Man said...

Party politics at its worst; imagine how much one would have to be in lockstep with a political party just to enter the race. The (newly elected) incumbent would then be a meat puppet. It would appear Ruedrich is missing his puppeteer strings and wants them back so sent Harris to fetch. Since one would have to resign to take the chance of running, this would prolepsis someone from within the party from bolting to take the lead and in fact, give the reins of who runs to the party apparatchik. Total control of our elected legislators would then be a bad joke as they would be owned by either the D or R party.