Would you support federal Congressional term limits?
Would you support federal Congressional term limits?
Definitely. If we're not going to reform campaign financing in a real way, then at least we can make special interests have to re-purchase their congressman every so often.
Are term limits even constitutional ???
Absolutely. This would be one of the best things possible for this country.
I do not support congressional term limits. In the long run, term limits won't fix much, because they don't address the root problems. The root problem isn't that somebody desires to serve his country by holding public office for an extended period of time. In fact, I think public service is a noble career choice. The problem is that our political system has evolved and is influenced such that when somebody has been in office for some time, that person obtains an advantage over potential challengers that was not intended by the framers of the constitution.
Getting Congress to give themselves term limits can be put in the same file as getting them to stop giving themselves raises all the time.
We have lifetime congressmen, because we have voter apathy. We have voter apathy, because we have less and less citizen participation in government. We have less citizen participation because people have "outsourced" most government to "professionals".
Want to get citizens to vote, and pay attention to what the scoundrels in congress are doing? Force them to serve in the military and to police their own streets and make all fire departments volunteer only. Otherwise, it's all just symptoms of a mature society becoming self-obsessed and flabby, which has happened to every civilization in the history of man.
I'm apparently also one of the few here that does not like the idea of congressional term limits. They were a fad that is past its prime, as some states that had them are now repealing them. As mentioned, they are an indirect solution to perceived problems.
I think the general antipathy towards congress as a body leads people to believe they should just all be replaced. The recurrent scandals and corruption play a role in this. There is also the feeling that legislators get too cozy with special interests over time.
The problem is that term limits do not address either of these issues. Veterans are simply replaced by new people who have had to play the same political game to get elected. They are rarely any better than those they replace. Additionally, legislators cannot be well informed on all topics. It is simply impossible as there is too much information. They therefore rely on (1) lobbyists and (2) party leaders to decide how they will vote. A new legislator is likely to be even more susceptible to such influences.
There are also adverse impacts of term limits, namely depleted institutional knowledge and memory. This can result in an even more inefficient system. Term limits would also likely result in a reduction in Congressional power. Instead of fading away however, we would likely see the executive and unelected administrative agencies assuming more power than they already have.
The one good effect I might be able to see with regards to term limits is that legislators would not be as influenced by political pressure from their district when deciding how to vote. They could therefore vote based on what they truly believe to be best instead of what the latest poll results show.
There are other reforms which can accomplish much more than term limits, such as campaign finance reform, increased transparency, ethics regulations, and the emergence of 3rd party alternatives. However, the biggest difference would be made if people would simply vote. There is a democratic check on everything done by Congress.
Kyle, excellent post!
Term limits at best are nothing more than a "feel good" measure. More probably, they are used as political ploys to gain power, and that's why I will never support them.
In the case of the presidential term limit amendment and the congressional term limits that Newt G. proposed in his Contract with America, both were ultimately ploys of the Republican party to get Democrats out of office.
I find it interesting that as soon as the Republicans got control of both houses of Congress and the White House, term limits didn't seem so important anymore to the Republicans leadership...you hardly hear anything about them anymore from the top of the party. At least not at the fervorous pitch of the Newt G. days. And as Kyle mentioned, some states that implemented term limits suddenly considered repealing them.
At the grass roots level, I have no doubt that folks were genuinely convinced that term limits could bring needed political reform. Those folks were duped. At the top levels of the Republican party, term limits were/are nothing more than another power play in their political arsenal.
Anyone has seen "Man of the Year", the movie about a comedian who becomes president. It's whimsical and far-fetched, but they have a great line in there.
"You can't raise 200 million in campaign funds and not owe somebody, something".
That cuts to the heart of the matter. These candidates go into office not beholding to the constituency, but beholding to their backers - ie major funders and lobby organizations. Cut the money off and bring the power back to the people.
Cynical as this is, the American people by and large are lemmings. Most people will vote Democrat or Republican - regardless of the body in the suit. And others will be swayed by who they see most, regardless of WHAT they see. And IMO, the later is more effective in the party races, the former comes to play in the presidential/congressional elections.
Cut the money back (drastically) get the message out effectively and not just en-mass. Make the elections real, not just popularity contests.
To that end, and for this one reason alone, I would find term limits desireable - once again the American electorate is by and large a bunch of lemmings. The incumbent is very often the sure win candidate, regardless of history. I've tried to recall the last time Iowa voted OUT as candidate for major office. Doesn't happen often. And more than I think they are doing a good job, poeple just get comfort levels and malaise.
Heck, if Eddie Murphy can become congressman just because he changes his name to Jeff Johnson and gets by on name recognition of a recently deceased incumbent, well you see how bad things are.....
It is difficult to throw an incumbent out even if he is a bum due to seniority clout and the barriers to entry. By seniority clout I mean that many voters do not want to unilaterally cede the power their congressman has amassed.
Term limits would result in the following:
1)Elections would be more competitive
2)More people would be encouraged to run for political office (since their chances of winning an election would improve)
3)Congressional power would be diffused
All of the major lobbyists/special interests oppose term limits. They are literally the only parties that donate heavily to defeat this issue. What special interest groups fear most is a continuing influx of new politicians, who neither know nor care to learn the rigged rules of the game, and the constant leadership turnover that will result.
Even with term limits, if candidates are required to raise millions of dollars, many of the same problems continue to exist.