Ask Mrs. Vera: Should There Be a Mandatory Retirement Age for the House and Senate?

Dear Mrs. Vera,

Should there be a mandatory retirement age for the House and Senate? This Congressional Afterlife Country Club I joined is letting just anyone and everyone in.  I’m thinking of coming back from the dead and running for office in South Carolina.

Even though I hate your work and everything about you,
The Hoovering-Around-The-Set-Of-A Scooby-Doo™-Cartoon Ghost Of Jesse Helms.


Mrs. Vera Newman,
San Francisco, California.
Photo: Grahame Perry

Well, loyal readers, I’d like to start this column by thanking anyone who has taken the time to seek my advice regarding any potentially rude acts of governance they think they might have committed while alive, when it counted, especially those that now find their souls to be still trapped on this physical plane, inbound to Miami, or who suffer from being found of little interest to the bureaucrats in charge of funding policy designed to aid the moving of them along (after all, Big Government can’t solve every problem for us, right?). Or even if they are just still smarting from having that big “cancelled” stamp smushed into their wrinkly, old Carolinian ectoplasm, because that can’t feel very nice.

So to one and all I say: “Thank you.”  Thanks for asking Mrs. Vera to help you learn some political manners, it is never too late for that for any of us, and in the spirit (“spirit”!  Get it, Mr. Helms? Huh?  wwWWOoooOoOoowooo… BOO!) of mature, true bi-partisanship let me just say that, despite our past differences, I genuinely feel sorry for your plight.  I firmly believe nobody should have to suffer the eternal torments of having to play the treacherous owner of the old mill where that Lady hid those stolen jewels somewhere in dis creepy joint, drat you interfering kids! At any rate, no one’s soul deserves to be trapped in any syndicated program produced by Hanna-Barbera™ after 1969, until the end of time, itself. There; I said it.  What kind of hell could one move onto after that, which wouldn’t just seem like a trip to the florist? I encourage my readers to share their insights about this with me.

But on to your specific question, dead Senator, about term limits. I know you spoke of retirement age, but they often boil down to the same thing. The current wisdom, which I’m not sure I agree with, coming out of Washington seems to be that term limits are a good thing – a very good thing. But, they quickly add, only if applied consistently to the voters, and their wishes. Politics without voters is considered necessary in order to secure a stronger, brighter future for the Corpeopleporations out there doing all the heavy lifting (of cartons of mortgage defaults and Wall Street bonus-related paperwork, mostly) which is required to eliminate jobs in this “Please! Change the recycling!  I beg you!” smelly economy of recent years.

There has been some weak, token resistance from the Democrats on Capitol Hill regarding some fuss about the “interests of the people,” a phrase that sounds increasingly goofy and quaint whenever some voter-elected fossil says it out loud among the stylish, young personboardofficers populating Congress who have made it onto the team after surviving several brutal rounds of the Lobbyist’s draft process. Moderate caucuses in both parties (two women and three men all together) are advocating for a compromise that merely places term limits on elections, placing a lifetime cap of 65 as the number of them a voter can participate in before their vote is turned over in perpetuity to a holding company. To sweeten the deal, they are proposing adding 65 retroactive elections to have been held before the Thursday before the passage of the landmark legislation, as soon as it has already happened actually, as well as a bill introducing mandatory participation in retroactive elections. These new laws that have, it turns out, been in place for decades, offer huge savings to the people of the United states if those people are among those already making laws, whether elected to office or otherwise.

But while politicians may dream of such reforms, wetly, the reality of now is that one’s senility has nothing to do with either one’s age, electability, or one’s ability to govern when called, usually by Karl Rove, to serve.  To even the playing field, the Stupids Caucussion in Congress argue, with their outdoor voices, and well past their bedtimes, that qualifications regarding mental capacity must be loosened, as clearly the average second grader can and would do a better job, since learning to raise their hand “yes” or “no” is a recently learned skill still very much fresh in their minds and giving them an unfair advantage over millionaires and their interests. Only by finding ever less qualified, uninformed, sugary breakfast cereal aficionados or appliances wearing wigs can seniority privileges in the august institution hope to be preserved, or else we’ll see who’s sorry and who can hold their breath longest.

I think, personally, the country would be better served if our present office-holders worried less about their ages and (ha-ha) “prison sentences” serving time in Congress, and thought of themselves instead as America’s luckiest soot-faced Hobos, all full of hot windowsill-cooling pies and wearing grubby polka-dot patched torn trousers with extension cord belts, even though they actually have lots of money all folded up in their grimy, hidden sock wallets, all the while loudly spouting their wacky radical religious beliefs God is telling them to share with that dumpster in the alley. Trust me – they won’t need to worry about retirement age or term limits. Soon enough, someone will come along and tell them it’s time for them to go, to move along now, and that they can’t do that here anymore. They may even get a sawbuck or a sandwich out of it, unless, of course, the Republicans are back in control.



Vera with toys and greensMrs. Vera Newman is a San Francisco absurdist character, humorist, artist, writer, community organizer, clothes horse and co-founder, with Mister Tina, of The Verasphere. She has been answering the unasked questions she receives from the lonely, empty rooms of America’s heart-shaped circulatory pump room ever since it began beating. Nestled in the politically bent bowels of the Nation since she was a young girl babysitting the very same newborn Nation, her ability to self-reflect about anyone else’s embarrassing shortcomings, inept fumblings or lousy recipes has enabled her invisible rise as a modern-day Cassandra, whatever that means. Feel free to dispose of all your worries by leaving them on her doorstep!


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