Robinson: Amid chaos, a Silicon Valley congressman reaches across the aisle
Silicon Valley Congressman Ro Khanna will take on the role of campaign co-chair for longtime East Bay Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who is one of three Democratic candidates running for U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s seaSilicon Valley Congressman Ro Khanna is pictured in this file photo.

While Republican leaders dither on a new Speaker of the House, at least one Democratic congressmember is building bipartisan support to reform our politics.

Silicon Valley Congressman Ro Khanna has brought together a bipartisan group of lawmakers. This includes Rep. Ilhan Omar on the far left to extreme MAGA supporter and Speaker slayer Matt Gaetz on the right. Khanna is using a five-point political reform agenda to suggest eliminating lobbyists and PAC money, employ 12-year term limits for Congress and 18-year term limits on the Supreme Court, ban stock trading by current congressmembers, prohibit lobbying by past office holders and institute a binding code of ethics for the Supreme Court.

While Khanna notes the plan has not yet been widely embraced by leadership, he points out that the reforms are very much in alignment with the consensus of the American public — and polls show he is correct.

“Leadership hasn’t signed on yet, but these reforms are overwhelmingly popular with the American people and we will continue pushing for the legislation to be introduced,” Khanna said. “The biggest challenge will be getting members of Congress who personally benefit from our broken system to put the people they represent over their own personal profit.”

Some of the ideas put forth have huge challenges, like term limits for Congress and the Supreme Court. Such provisions would surely be challenged. One cannot imagine the current Supreme Court allowing themselves to be retired by term limits. U.S. Term Limits Inc v. Thornton already prohibits states from imposing term limits on Congress, though this court apparently doesn’t care about precedent and could reverse that decision if it choses.

But Khanna points to a legal analysis signed by a bevy of legal scholars, including the well-respected Laurence Tribe of Harvard Law that argues term limits for the Supreme Court are not proscribed and are, indeed, constitutional. That said, so far this court has refused to consider ethics rules, let alone the idea they constitutionally limit their own terms, regardless of the merit of legal arguments. Hope springs eternal.

But more importantly, Khanna is tapping into the frustration of a majority of Americans who believe the system works only for the elite and not for ordinary people. His message resonates, especially with younger voters.

We can quibble with some of the reforms — many prefer retirement age to term limits, for example. But as a package, Khanna’s proposals are a good start for long overdue political reform. One item that should be included is a federal law requiring state legislatures to adopt independent commissions for drawing legislative districts, a cause championed by former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

While this is a large hill to climb given our current politics, the fact that Khanna has aligned with both the far left and far right on a consensus reform package is not insignificant.

It has been a long time since both sides worked together for the shared values of our Republic.

Khanna’s reform gives us hope that we can someday return to an era of bipartisanship, even as we disagree on other issues.

But first, we need a Speaker of the House.

San José Spotlight columnist Rich Robinson is a political consultant, attorney and author of “The Shadow Candidate.” His columns appear every fourth Wednesday of the month.

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