Article I Section II of the United States Constitution specifically states, “The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States.” But North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue (D) would rather we just skip over that section and suspend congressional elections for two years. Speaking at a Rotary Club event today, Perdue proposed holding off on elections for a while so lawmakers can focus on the economy — a suggestion that’s breathtaking just by virtue of how blatantly unconstitutional it is:
Speaking to a Cary rotary club today, N.C. Gov. Bev Perdue suggested suspending Congressional elections for two years so that Congress can focus on economic recovery and not the next election.
“I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won’t hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover. I really hope that someone can agree with me on that,” Perdue said. “You want people who don’t worry about the next election.”
The comment — which came during a discussion of the economy — perked more than a few ears. It’s unclear whether Perdue, a Democrat, is serious — but her tone was level and she asked others to support her on the idea.
It’s not hard to sympathize with the sentiment behind Perdue’s remark. Because they have to run for reelection every two years, congressmen remain so fixated on fundraising and campaigning that they forget to be lawmakers and have trouble putting politics aside to focus on compromise and what’s good for the country. However, it’s a dangerous precedent to set to suggest we simply suspend democracy every time unemployment goes above 9 percent.
The serious, responsible way to pursue Perdue’s idea would be through a constitutional amendment. As the American Prospect observes, unnecessarily frequent elections contribute to Washington’s gridlock and the plague of never-ending campaigns. Extending terms for members of the House is a discussion worth having — but preferably in a legal way.
Gov. Perdue’s office has responded to what they describe on her Facebook page as the “hubbub” about her remarks. Press Secretary Chris Mackey said in a statement, “Come on…Gov. Perdue was obviously using hyperbole to highlight what we can all agree is a serious problem: Washington politicians who focus on their own election instead of what’s best for the people they serve.” The Facebook page also helpfully defines hyperbole as “an exaggeration to create emphasis or effect” for those who might be confused about the clarification.