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Monday, September 27, 2010

The Issue of Term Limits

Term limits is a subject of great debate and political thought. Though there has been significant discourse throughout the history of the United States, most recently to note in the 1990’s, there still lacks a rule of law.

While the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution poses term limits on the office of President, and a sizable portion of state legislatures have a provision within state constitutions or through statutes for term limits on its members, and many local-level government bodies have laws in place which limit terms of a political office, the largest and most powerful governing body in all of the US, the United States Congress, does not.

Note that the terms of state Governors are more readily regulated throughout the US than those of Congress. This may quite possibly be due to the fact that the position of Governor is most like that of President, whereas the positions within Congress are not like that of President (one is an representative; one is an executive).

Also note that a person who is not well-educated on the topic of term limits, admittedly such as myself, would have a difficult time researching the subject in order to find the real reason for or against Congressional term limits, or to find any mention of the subject at all (outside of those mentioned above).

Logically speaking, because the positions within Congress are not executives, but instead representatives of the public body, perhaps they should not be limited on the number of terms they serve. After all, each member of Congress is effectively chosen, or dealt his/her term limit, every two or six years (US House of Representatives are elected every two years; US Senators are elected every six).

Yet, it still seems desirable to have term limits for this level of government. Political corruption, growing out of touch with constituents back home, and becoming too comfortable with the power and position within Congress are just three reasons why term limits are desired - not to mention the benefit of having fresh faces and ideas representing the public in Washington, DC.

I, for one, sway between the two logics above; I can see value on both sides of the issue. On one side, voters have a choice of who they send to Congress and are able to elect a different person to represent them in Washington every two or six years; on the other side, members of Congress may develop undesired habits while serving in Washington (which the public may be unaware of) and out of an abundance of caution should be forced out of office, in good faith, when they reach the limit of their term.

However, after presenting out the two sides of term limits above, and when looking at the political realities in today’s environment, perhaps the ‘abundance of caution’ reasoning is the most reasonable of roads to choose in the argument. What harm can be done if we were to limit the number of terms a member of Congress may serve?

At least for now, fortunately, there is in effect a referendum of the record of each member of Congress every two or six years; a real opportunity for the people’s voices to be heard, and a regularly-scheduled opportunity to enact change and rid Congress of undesirable members.

Please exercise your unique right to vote. Please perform your due diligence on those whom you vote to elect. And please engage in your local, regional, and national conversations – our country will be better for it.

1 comment:

  1. J-
    Love the new blog! You're right, it is simple and you now have the forum you need to say what's on your mind. It's those great thoughts that will land you an elected position one day in the near future! I look forward to it and know that change is on the way!