Mike Castle

September 14th, 2012

Mike Castle is a former Delaware Governor and Congressional Representative.

Over two hundred years ago our creative forefathers wrote our Constitution which with amendments and judicial interpretations has been the game plan for American governance since and has not only survived but has been emulated around the world.

The problems of today at the Federal, State and local level, numerous as they are, particularly fiscal, can be resolved within the bounds of our Constitution, if we have the political will.

Politics have changed in recent years.  The two major political parties have become in part more ideological.  The national media in the form of cable television, talk radio, and printed columnists has become more polarized.  Individual or group media in the form of blogs and websites and the internet even more so.

So, how do we govern the way out of our problems in this hyper-partisan environment?  First, understand elected officials at all governmental levels must make spending decisions which may be perceived as benefit cuts to individuals or other entities, but this must happen for future economic security; and, we should judge elected officials on their will to make tough decisions which will ultimately solve these problems.

Are there structural/constitutional issues which should be considered?  Stopping short of advocating, I would suggest a few for discussion.

Reapportionment of Congressional and State House and Senate districts every ten years after the census has been and still is generally done by State legislatures.  Because Delaware has only one member of the House of Representatives, and, thus, this only applies to our legislature, the reapportionment here is less confrontational then in most other states; however, most of the redistricting in the U.S.A. is very partisan and ideologically driven leading to great partisanship.  Some states have gone to outside bipartisan commissions of non-elected officials for this process which has created more balanced electoral districts.  I believe more will follow.

Financing of campaigns is clearly a problem both in terms of what, perhaps, undue influence a large contributor has and the time elected officials have to devote to fundraising.  In addition, the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court allowing untold and unwarranted expenditures by corporations, unions and non-profit groups is an added problem.  Working with Chris Van Hollen, a Democratic Congressman from Maryland, I co-wrote the Disclose Act, which would compel disclosure of top contributors to these groups and attributions of who is running the ads, but no vote was allowed on it.  It has been reintroduced in this Congress, but no action yet.

Would public financing of companies solve these problems?  Perhaps, but there is no agreement as to a plan to make that shift, and it is unlikely incumbent elected officials would support anyhow.

Should Members of the U.S. House of Representatives be elected to a four-year term rather than two years?  Argument for it is more stability in the House, less fundraising by Members of Congress, and, arguably, more will of Members to cast hard votes.  Arguments against are the Constitution set two years, and it has worked ever since and incumbent Senators will not support because incumbent House members in years with no election would be more inclined to challenge in a primary or general election.  So, even if this is a good idea, it is highly unlikely to occur..


The real change agent in all of this is us, the electorate.  As we look at each election, we should consider not only the political party of the candidates, but, also, the will of the candidate, who may or may not be an incumbent, to make hard decisions, to develop legislative solutions to problems, to be willing to work with others to accomplish the greater good for the country and to listen to and serve constituents.  We should query our candidates on these issues and let them know there will be accountability in terms of your vote and influence.  Believe me, when the voting populace speaks, and their individual votes may be based on the answers, the politicians will listen.

Comments are closed.