Term Limits Back in the Public Square

It came and then it faded away – mostly because a court decision absurdly ruled that the States cannot limit their federal office holders terms.  But the American people do seem to want it – according to Gallup, 75% of Americans want term limits on members of Congress.  This is broadly supported by Democrats, Republicans and Independents and all age groups are in favor.  Gallup didn’t break it down by ethnicity, but I doubt the measurements would come out much different if they had.

Term limits are, in my view, a vital aspect of ensuring that government is responsive to the will of the people.  To arguments that we need experienced legislators I answer:  like the ones we have now?  To arguments that staff will take control if legislators are rapidly overturned I answer:  why in heck do we even have large staffs for each legislator?  They are supposed to be writing the laws (and these days we know they don’t even read them before they vote on them…seems like the staffs are already in control in our non-term limited legislature).  Three terms for House members, two terms for Senators, that is my ideal.  If I thought I could get it in there, I’d also forbid sitting office holders from seeking a different office until at least two years after they left office.  We’re not supposed to have a professional, political class but, instead, have citizen legislators who serve for a time and then go back home to live under the laws they wrote (no elected official should have a pension, nor should they have their health care provided by government…they are there to serve, darn it!).

There is a mood to change things for real in America – and whomever taps in to it first and best will win everything.

 

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28 thoughts on “Term Limits Back in the Public Square

  1. Cluster January 19, 2013 / 9:11 am

    I use to be opposed to term limits but now am in 100% support, and believe that we need to implement them as soon as possible. For every new star like Marco Rubio, who you wouldn’t mind seeing in a leadership role for quite some time, you have 5 Harry Reid’s, Chuck U Shumer’s, John McCain’s, etc. the vast majority of our elected representatives have been there waaaaaaayyyy too long and are no longer representing the people of their state, but rather their special interests and own selfish needs.

    Now the question is, how do you put limits into place? Considering that the very people it effects the most, are the ones who need to vote on it.

    • M. Noonan January 19, 2013 / 2:51 pm

      I think it is something which can become a popular movement which may be able to attract a lot of cross-over support (also supported in the linked poll is an end to the Electoral College…that would be tricky because I think we should keep that as it emphasizes the federal character of our Republic as well as ensures that small States play a roll in electing the President…and I think the ultimate cure for this is to break up the States in to much smaller units…perhaps as many as 70; almost all of the States, due to organic growth since their foundations, have actually contained within them two or more separate States which have different needs and outlooks…the western States, especially, were cobbled together when they had tiny populations relative today and some of them were drawn up for bizarre reasons…California, for instance, was admitted as a single State even though almost entirely unpopulated when it happened simply because anti-slavery Northerners didn’t want a separate State admitting south of the Missouri Compromise line…which was a good reason in 1850, but hardly holds true today).

      I haven’t been able to figure out a catchy, easy to understand, non-partisan name for the movement – “Local Control” is what it’s about, but we need something better for a name. Any advertising executives out there with any ideas?

      People, though, are disgusted with the system, so anything which attacks the system will have a base of popular support. Adding term limits to the revolutionary mix will be vital.

      • dbschmidt January 20, 2013 / 10:23 pm

        We need to keep the electoral college because that is what makes our Republic a republic. Term limits are something I have come to desire because no one follows George Washington and wishes that a ‘term’ was a duty but no further.

      • M. Noonan January 20, 2013 / 11:03 pm

        Washington’s example held for quite a while – simply because he refused a third term, no one else would try it, until Theodore Roosevelt gave it a shot in 1912, and then FDR successfully did it in 1940. So, then we enshrined in law Washington’s wisdom, but only for the President…now we need a bit of wisdom applied to Congress.

  2. 02casper January 19, 2013 / 10:14 am

    Mark,
    I agree with you on the term limits with one addition. Former members of Congress should not be allowed to lobby anyone in the government for at least 5 years from the end of their final term.

    • neocon01 January 19, 2013 / 12:57 pm

      catspuke

      WHY??

    • M. Noonan January 19, 2013 / 2:56 pm

      Casper,

      Agreed.

  3. Retired Spook January 19, 2013 / 10:51 am

    It came and then it faded away – mostly because a court decision absurdly ruled that the States cannot limit their federal office holders terms.

    In essence, because of the existence of the Electoral College, it’s the states that elect the president, and presidents are limited to 2 terms. Of course it took a Constitutional amendment to accomplish that, but I don’t see why the same can’t be done with the representatives of the people who serve at the national level, particularly since most states limit the terms of their governors. I agree with Mark’s suggestion of 2 terms for Senators and 3 for Congressmen. It certainly couldn’t result in any worse governance than what we have now.

    Now the question is, how do you put limits into place? Considering that the very people it effects the most, are the ones who need to vote on it.

    That’s the $64,000 question, Cluster. The ONLY way would be a national movement that would recruit people to run on a term limits platform, who sign a binding agreement to sponsor term limit legislation and vote for it if elected. And then if they renege, replace them with someone else.

    The only other alternative is what was done in the TV mini-series Amerika back in the late 80’s, where the KGB went into the Capital and machine-gunned everyone in the House and Senate. That seems a bit harsh, though.

    In all seriousness, I do think we’re entering a period of American history that will include events many though impossible or unimaginable just a few years ago. Will another “greatest generation” rise to the occasion and rescue the American experiment? I wouldn’t bet on the generation that’s currently the age my parents were when WW2 started. If there isn’t an ap for it, they’d be lost.

    • Retired Spook January 19, 2013 / 11:02 am

      An interesting side note on the mini-series, Amerika; it was broadcast in February, 1987. Thirty-Two months later the Berlin Wall fell, and 2 years after that the Soviet Union imploded.

      • Amazona January 19, 2013 / 11:31 am

        Spook, somehow I completely missed “Amerika” when it was on, but your comments piqued my curiosity and I looked it up and ended up buying the series on DVD.

        Wikepedia had this interesting snippet:

        “Amerika has an indirect connection to another notable ABC program, the 1983 television film The Day After, which some critics felt was too pacifist for portraying the doctrine of nuclear deterrence as pointless. (ABC Entertainment president) Stoddard cited a column in the Los Angeles Herald Examiner by Nixon speechwriter (and later, television personality,) Ben Stein that appeared a few weeks before The Day After aired. Stein wrote, in part:

        …since my dear friends at ABC-TV have made a TV movie very rightly describing the terror of an atomic attack on America, perhaps they might consider something else. Perhaps they might make a TV movie about why the people of the United States face such a dreadful risk. They might make a movie about what life in the United States would be like if we lived under Soviet domination. Here is the idea: Let’s have a movie called “In Red America.” It would be about a few days or weeks in the life of several American families after the Soviet Union had taken over America.

        Stoddard acknowledged that Stein’s remarks provided the inspiration for the series. Stein received a quitclaim deed from ABC for the idea for Amerika and otherwise was not involved in its production. Originally envisioned as a four-hour made-for-TV movie entitled “Topeka, Kansas, U.S.S.R.”, the project soon was expanded into a miniseries.”

        I think Ben Stein’s comment is even more relevant today. But today the transition would be voluntary, the result of patient herding of sheeple into voting themselves into what they are led to believe is a cozy cocoon of mindless security and infinite “fairness”.

      • Amazona January 19, 2013 / 11:36 am

        Trivia side note: I believe that some of “The Day After” was filmed at the site of a partially demolished shopping center in Denver. The shopping center was badly damage in a fire, and even after renovation smelled so strongly of smoke that it became unpopular,so the decision was made to demo it. Rubble was in a huge pit, and it did look like the aftermath of a nuclear war or at least a massive disaster, so it was used in the film.

      • Retired Spook January 19, 2013 / 12:55 pm

        I think Ben Stein’s comment is even more relevant today. But today the transition would be voluntary, the result of patient herding of sheeple into voting themselves into what they are led to believe is a cozy cocoon of mindless security and infinite “fairness”.

        Just as Josef Stalin predicted back in the late 40’s or early 50’s. The problem with that is twofold: the yearning for freedom is an inherent part of the human spirit, and those who would be led to that “cozy cacoon” are, for the most part, not the kind of people who would (or could) fight to stay there. They’ll just end of being cannon fodder, which, if you think about it, is exactly how people like that should end up.

      • neocon01 January 19, 2013 / 12:59 pm

        if we play it again sam,will Ubama and his regime fall?

        I’ll donate….LOL

    • neocon01 January 19, 2013 / 12:44 pm

      I agree with Mark’s suggestion of 2 terms for Senators and 3 for Congressmen. It certainly couldn’t result in any worse governance than what we have now.

      not just YEAH, but HELL YEAH
      GET em OUT!!! ASAP

  4. Amazona January 19, 2013 / 10:58 am

    Term limits are a good idea,but only skim the surface of the problem.

    I think the biggest problem is the current structure our political process. The idea, at the time of the founding of the nation, was that citizens would come forward to serve their country, do so for a while, and then go home and make room for others to step in. It’s a great idea, and if we could implement it we would have a much more effective government.

    But our process has become so corrupt and so brutal, it is harder and harder to find decent, honest, committed patriots willing to undergo the savagery that is an election campaign in this country.

    I am not a John F. Kennedy fan, nor a Robert Kennedy fan. I think both men were morally corrupt in their private lives, at least sexually. But I also think they went into public life to serve, not to enrich themselves, and I have to wonder if either of them would have considered it if they had had to run the gauntlet of savage and despicable personal attacks that are now part and parcel of any campaign.

    We need the kinds of men and women who would be successful doing whatever they choose to do, not people who can only make it in government. And we have let an election system develop which tells bright, talented people they are much better off staying as far as they can from government. Look at what happened to Mitt Romney, one of the most talented, successful and truly decent men ever to run for office. Why would people like this choose to expose themselves to the meat grinder of 21st Century American Politics, when they can lead happy, serene, productive and very successful lives on their own? These are the kinds of people we need, and we have a system which pre-selects to keep them out of government.

    I think this comes back to the media and the corruption of their role in government. The media have so abandoned the role of the press, to provide a voice for the people and to be objective watchdogs, in favor of agenda journalism where they actively promote one political side and at their very best ignore the other, when they are not actually participating in the personal destruction of political opponents, that they are probably the most responsible for the erosion of the process into nothing but a cage fight with no rules.

    The press is supposed to be the umpire, the referee, the entity that calls fouls and errors.

    We can’t stop liars and scoundrels from seeking public office, but we ought to be able to count on a press which exposes their lies and shenanigans and is even-handed enough to let us make our choices on fact and not on emotional and intellectual manipulation by the purveyors of “information”.

    The need for lobbying rules and term limits will be a lot less if we can get back a little closer to a system in which all candidates are held to the same standard, where lies and smears are revealed for what they are by the press, and where decent people are not discouraged from participating in the process.

    • neocon01 January 19, 2013 / 12:47 pm

      TERM limits rid our selves of the rat plague that now infests our govt.
      and
      national sales tax NO IRS, NO ninja GOONS, NO prison, NO aduits..send em a postcard at the end of the year.

      • neocon01 January 19, 2013 / 2:19 pm

        mmmmmmmmm I WANT one…….

      • neocon01 January 19, 2013 / 2:23 pm

        Rand Paul to Chris Christie: Cool it With the Temper Tantrums & Grandstanding, Alright?

      • Retired Spook January 19, 2013 / 7:27 pm

        Neo,

        The civilian version is only a couple grand. How long do you think the waiting list is?

      • j6206 January 19, 2013 / 10:56 pm

        On gun appreciation day 5 people were accidentally shot at three separate gun shows. What goofs. Gun culture is American culture.

      • neocon01 January 20, 2013 / 11:55 am

        j1360

        and 500 people were shot on purpose in GUN free chi cago….NEXT??

    • M. Noonan January 19, 2013 / 3:03 pm

      Amazona,

      What Obama and Co did to Romney was a disgrace – and regardless of what one thinks of Romney’s politics (remember: he was about my 6th choice in the GOP field), he’s clearly a very decent man, yet he was demonized as if he were the filth of the planet. Meanwhile, corrupt political leaders like Reid get a pass…

      It is leftism which brings the poison in because all things are subjective with them – and so morality is subordinated to winning. As they are convinced that they will usher in paradise, they figure it doesn’t matter what tactics are used to win because it will be so much better after victory that all sins will be forgiven. We won’t get the poison out of the system until the left is defeated – and by “defeated” I don’t just mean “out of office” but, rather, “no longer living off of taxpayer subsidies”. The dirty, little secret of the left is that it would have zero power if we didn’t pay to keep it alive. Via direct employment and a host of varied subsidies, we essentially pay the left to campaign against us. When we win, we must start to break them off from taxpayer support and then they will dry up and blow away.

      • Amazona January 19, 2013 / 7:23 pm

        What Obama and Company did to Romney was a disgrace. What the media did to assist Obama and Company was a gross dereliction of the duty of the press, and what half of the nation did to reward it was despicable.

      • tiredoflibbs January 20, 2013 / 12:25 pm

        Here is just one example of the obAMATEUR complicit media protecting their candidate at all costs….

        This was the so called “Lie of the Year” by left wing progressive group PolitiFact. Supposedly, they check the accuracy of candidates, politicians etc. etc. After the piss poor performance of the media NOT doing their job and letting obAMATEUR telling some major lies, it is no wonder he was re-elected.

        http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/whoops-politifacts-lie-year-turns-out-be-true_696223.html

      • neocon01 January 21, 2013 / 9:07 am

        it is no wonder he was re-elected.

        that is another left’s lie
        he was cheated in

  5. dmlma January 24, 2013 / 7:28 am

    I agree with terms limits but would also like to change senator’s term from 6 to 5 years and house term from 2 to 3 years. By changing the senator’s term to 5 years they would have 10 years to serve with 2 terms, more than enough for any one person. Changing congress member’s term from 2 to 3 and providing 3 terms would give them 9 years eligibility, just one shy of a senator’s. As it stands, congress members with 2 year terms spend 1 year legislating and the next year seeking reelection. With 3 years they’ll have at least 2 years to do some work before spending the 3rd campaigning. Also, with 3 & 5 year terms, I think we’ll see different patterns of any one party holding either house for 2 or more years. This is especially true as these terms will most often not coincide with the presidential election.

    Also, congress members shall not have any special retirement or medical benefits. They should be restricted to the same crap every one of their constituents have to live with.

    One other thing that MUST be put in place is to clear to voting rolls periodically with re-verification of address and living status, photo ID without exception and proper provisions for military personal away from home to have ample means and time to vote AND that they are all counted.

    Any precinct that shows an abnormality in voting, such as 140% of the registered voters voting, should initiate an immediate investigation and prosecution of any involved people. No vote from any such precicnt should be counted until the irregularity has been cleared.

    Anyone unable to enter the voting booth by themselves to make their own choice should be ineligible to vote. I don’t see any way to ensure the integrity of the individual’s vote if another person is “assisting”.

    I totally agree with Amazona about how the media’s is amiss in their duty to provide unbiased reporting and expose the truth of misdeeds of individuals, government and corporate entities. They are nothing but a slime machine for the left. Even with the 1st amendment’s the right to free speech, It would be interesting if there could criminal penalty (jail and financial) for anyone knowingly providing false information such as what Dan Rather did in his “false but accurate” spiel. Not sure how difficult this would be to implement as I’m sure the left would twist this to try to prosecute people on the right where they can find a way -AND- it would need to be someone on the right willing to prosecute clear violations from the left.

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