Over the years several polls have shown that most of the voters in the country (possibly 80%?) would like to have a constitutional amendment to set Congressional term limits. They are tired of all the blather and delays about the pros and cons about congressional term limits pushed by the opposition. Enough with the talk! Let's vote!
To get to the vote, we need a few more sympathetic senators and representatives to sponsor a Congressional Term Limits Amendment bill which could pass in the House and Senate by a two thirds vote (which is not easy, of course!) and then sent out for ratification by three fourths of the states.
All the Term Limits advocacy organizations, and all believing individuals, should commit to send a steady drumbeat of letters, emails, and phone calls to their senators and representatives. This bill should be sought by the people several times in every session of Congress until the politicians, who are probably its chief opponents, are shamed into passing it. (That’s how we got the 17th amendment which requires that senators be elected rather than appointed.)
At the same time, the legislatures in every state should be bombarded with demands to ask Congress to call for a Constitutional Convention to do the same thing. This might scare them more than anything else. However, the nebulous fears against what might happen in a constitutional convention are unwarranted. (It is extremely unlikely that surprise ‘bad’ amendment proposals from the convention could pass muster with three fourths of state legislatures. On the other hand, it is very likely that a term limits proposal for Congress would pass handily.)
Remember, many states have already passed term limits for their own legislatures and state officials. In time, more states will do so. Obviously, state legislatures wouldn’t mind if their Congressional peers had the same limits.
There are lots of people out there who mistakenly believe that routine elections are good enough for term limits. Trouble is, the facts don’t support their position. Until about 40 years ago, Congressional turnover was about 50%, probably what it should be. During the last 15 years however, it has come down to about 10% ! Does anyone really think this happened because the quality of the candidates for reelection has suddenly improved? Or, more likely, politicians have figured out what a cushy, powerful job they have with all the perks and benefits, with more to come (since they write their own tickets), that they are now focussed primarily on how to engineer and assure their own reelections (e.g. Campaign Finance Reform, bigger and more outrageous pork spending bills, etc), not what is best for the country.
Stop to think what it will be like a few years from now when practically all of Congress are long termers, who think theirjobs are ‘permanent’. When it comes to arrogance, you aint seen nothin’ yet!!!
There are lots of reasons to favor term limits for Congress, very few against, as follows:
REASONS IN FAVOR OF TERM LIMITS:
1. Builds ‘citizen’ Congress vs career politicians.
2. Breaks ties to special interests, lobbyists.
3. Destroys seniority/enhances meritocracy.
4. Improves timeliness of Congress’s thinking.
5. Eliminates power of ‘old bulls’ caucus.
6. Introduces fresh thinking, new ideas.
7. Improves tendency to vote on principle.
8. Reduces power of staff, bureaucracy.
9. Increases competition among candidates.
10. Acts as a natural campaign finance reform.
11. Improves the quality of legislation.
12. Probably tends to smaller government.
REASONS OPPOSED TO TERM LIMITS:
1. Eliminates the good along with the bad. (Long tenures spoils the “good”)
2. Reduces the freedom of voters to choose. (Long tenures is NOT choosing)
3. Increases the power of staff, bureaucracy. (Citizen reps will control this)
4. Loss of knowledge and experience. (Outsider experience is just as valuable)
Isn’t Term Limits an idea whose time has come?
Nelson Lee Walker, Saratoga,CA firstname.lastname@example.org