Published on September 22nd, 2010 | by Leonard Jackson0
This won’t be the only article I write about term limits. I’ll try to monitor myself and not become a one-note troubadour, but this is something that has been gnawing at me for years. Every day the political news illustrates the need for some kind of restraint in Washington, D.C; to somehow curb this frantic stampede to give away our money in exchange for political power and financial support. The need becomes more pressing each day. It will continue to get worse if we continue to ignore the problem and don’t address it.
Many of us, who were never on the pro side of this debate, have changed our positions over the years. It always seemed unconstitutional to deny a popular candidate, who had ably represented his/her constituency, the opportunity to continue their good work. We figured that we’re getting our share so let’s throw the other bums out – just not our bums. But invariably the power that accumulates over an uninterrupted string of terms-of-office becomes an addictive feeling of entitlement that is impossible to surrender under the most well-meaning conditions.
Thomas Jefferson warned, “Experience has shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.”
And what does it mean today to represent your constituency? I’m afraid too many of us measure these in terms of what special entitlements or exemptions can be brought home at the expense of the other forty-nine states. Maybe it would be a good thing if we all took the position that the people of Nebraska chose when they turned down the ridiculous special favors Senator Ben Nelson extorted in his shakedown of the ObamaCare crowd for his vote that forced this horrible piece of legislation on the nation.
Term limits have been placed on 15 state legislatures, eight of the ten largest cities in America adopted term limits for their city councils and/or mayor, and 37 states place term limits on their constitutional officers. Recently, Senator DeMint introduced a “Term Limits for All” bill that would serve as an amendment to the U.S. Constitution if it were to gain enough support in Congress and among the American people. The bill would finally put an end to this era of permanent politicians on Capitol Hill by limiting House members to three terms, and senators to two. So far Senators Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Kay Baily Hutchison (R-Texas) and Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) have signed on as cosponsors of the bill.
This could be a dramatic reform in the way we choose those folks who would lead us, starting with the slates of candidates that might be now attracted; people who would be willing to share their valuable time and talent for the good of our nation. What a novel idea that would be.
So here is the deal. In order for any such drastic legislation to gain any traction at all it would be necessary (obviously) to exclude all present members of Congress from this new law. They would not be inclined to vote themselves out of a job, but they could be given term limits at the ballot box. Recent anti-incumbent sentiment shown in primaries for both parties shows this is a popular, growing short time solution.
We should set a limit of 2 six-year terms for senators and 6 two-year terms for representatives. This gives them 12 years, and that is certainly enough. We should then make a unified bi-partisan effort to eliminate each current incumbent as his/her term expires without regard to party affiliation or any other extenuating circumstances, whatever they may be. At the end of six years we would have a core of a new Congress, new bureaucrats, and new staffs with enough time to begin to put in place the foundation of a free government by the people and for the people .Haven’t we heard this somewhere before?
This can be done. It’s been done before. This may be the “perfect storm” setting when all forces come together at just the right time and place in history. This just may be the best (and possibly the last) perfect time to make this happen. It really depends on whether we, the people, want to make the effort. In the present climate it’s really possible.