@ HJohn, Jonathan Wilson,
JW - "The president has a 2-term/8 year maximum. Perhaps its time to introduce term limits for congressmen and senators. That would get rid of "career politicians" as well as weaken the influence of lobbyists"
HJ - "I think that may help a bit, but I think a bigger problem is just the nature of politics."
Yes and no, "pork" is a natural consiquence of "representational democracy" and other forms of government of the masses by the few. But not of politics as a whole.
In a true democracy where the masses vote on issues, not on which "monkey in a suit" will represent their views, "pork" and "lobbying" as we currently know it would not happen.
However those with sufficient assets will always find methods of "undue influence" be it by buying politicians, their advisors, newspaper/media owners or advertising space.
One of the reasons there are few true democracies is that the ordinary person does not have the ability or time to understand even one or two of the issues sufficiently to make an informed choice let alone the myriad of issues that arise every year.
The supposed strength of representational democracy is that your representative is supposed to not only have the time and ability to understand the issues but be immune to undue influance.
And there are the flaws in the system, like us politicians do not have the time or ability to truly understand even a fraction of the issues, therfore they need advisors (over whom we the voters have no control).
And to get re-elected they have to be amenable to influance by the electorate.
But how do they understand what we the people want they cannot talk to everybody, so they are reliant on other advisors...
Therefore the politician is reliant for their information on advisors who can inject their own agenda be it intentional or not...
In this light shortening the term a politician can serve can be seen as detrimental.
For instance children have difficulty understanding danger and it is not untill they reach a degree of maturaty (adulthood) that they have sufficient experiance to recognise danger before it occurs.
Likewise it takes time for a politician to gain the depth of experiance required to sense when they are being influenced unduly or being fed biased or incorect information by advisors or others.
Which brings us back to the point, representatives have to do our (the voters) bidding but not that of others.
Therefore we are effectivly asking that they be influanced by us and not by others that we disaprove of.
But in any populous the views will be varied and biased by self interest therefore even in an entirly honest system it devolves down to a shouting match or credability issue, and fair judgment only comes with sufficient maturity with the process.
Cutting the time served by a politition effectivly stops them maturing and may actually (as we have seen in the UK) make things a whole lot worse.
The apparent solution, true democracy where everybody votes on issues and only the true facts are presented for the voters to consider...
Is some kind of utopian dream that is impractical in the society we currently have, and infact impractical in any reasonably sized population.
So we come back to the age old question of how do we keep politicians sufficiently honest and working for us?
I have ideas but they all have flaws in one way or another.
As Churchill once noted (IIRC),
"Democracy is the worst form of politics except for all the rest."
What I do know is that unless we discuss things freely then we are not going to arive at a working solution. Unfortunatly the current political climate does not encorage free discussion.