Reforms needed

Dear Congressman Dennis Hastert,

As two high school social studies teachers (people with whom you can surely identify), we are very concerned about the direction politics in this country is taking.

It is evident that Americans are becoming disenchanted with the political process. It must be very apparent that changes must be made in order to keep mainstream Americans involved in our government.

It is very disconcerting to realize that it is almost impossible for new people with fresh ideas to be elected to Congress. The “old boy” system flourishes while Congress stagnates. There is something drastically wrong with a system in which more than 95 percent of the incumbents win in every election. The vast majority not only win, but win by huge pluralities. Qualified people who wish to oppose the incumbent may not run when they know the rules of the game favor the individual already in office. Of the more than 400 house incumbents who ran in the 1988 election, only four were defeated (three of the four were under indictment or had other ethical problems).

To open the political arena to a greater number of candidates, we suggest that the following changes be made in the electoral process:

. Eliminate PACs or limit their contributions to $1,000 per candidate per election.

2. Put a spending ceiling on all congressional candidates.

3. All campaign funds not spent must be given to charity.

4. Eliminate the spending of “soft” money on behalf of candidates by a second party or by the local or state party organization.

5. Shorten the amount of campaign time to four weeks for those running for a house seat, and eight weeks for the senate.

6. Limit the number of terms a congressman can serve to six and two for a senator.

The time has come to move beyond the election laws of the 1970s and consider a new approach to campaigns. While these ideas may be threatening to many members of Congress, we hope the 101st Congress will have the courage to discuss and debate such an agenda.

We would be especially proud if our congressman would sponsor such legislation. Please give it some thought.

Frank Bergren

Scott Ellenberger

Sycamore High School