Time to Limit the Insanity

In follow up to my “no one to blame” entry, we will start looking at ways that can provide for the people to rightfully reclaim control over a runaway, oppressive Federal tyranny.  As with anything, order of entry and priority mean everything and I’ve thought long and hard about what our priorities should be and how to best list them.  We are caught in a stampede of federal irresponsibility and headed for the cliff, meaning there are so many things that can, {should}, be done, it’s hard to pick a place to start.  While others may disagree with my listings, I hope that the message comes across.  These are just methods and means to an end.  If you want to rearrange them, feel free, but point being, it’s time we not be lazy anymore.  It’s time we make a real “change we can believe in” to our current federal policies, not just use the moniker to stealthily disguise a road towards socialism.

Term Limits

With all the complications that are now facing our country, I came to the realization that we can’t change a single thing until we again take back our government from the brothel that Washington, D.C has become.  All other reforms and attempts to steer our country back to the principals of our founding will be for naught if we don’t find a way to force all the corruption, and the very idea of a ruling class, from our congress.  In my opinion, the only way to do that is to impose term limits upon our elected representatives.  Yes, I’m aware that there are arguments against such measures, but I will attempt to dissect them and explain why term limits are not only the first step in returning the government back to the people, but the only method by which we will save ourselves from the fate of Rome.


The solution is to impose a strict term limit on the amount of time that a person can serve as a representative.  Several options have been proposed, but I most favor a three term limit with a 12 year maximum time served.  The reason for this is to provide for sufficient length of service for the senate, while preventing complacency and providing for adequate turn over in the house.  In essence, a representative would be able to serve two six year senate terms, one six year senate term and two house terms, or three two year house terms, with no more than 3 terms or 12 years served.  This would not exempt a representative from being eligible for presidential consideration. 

Why the disparity?  For one reason, the senate was designed to represent the wills of the state with a responsibility to consider long term effects of legislation.  Providing for two terms allows those representatives to recommend and see their proposals thru implementation, while maintaining a sense of continuity and maturity of government.  Secondly, the house was designed to represent the will of the people with a primary focus on funding.  By providing the above restrictions, it keeps this house full of fresh faces (for shorter term interests) and allows for relatively small time frames in which the people can affect change on public policy via the purse strings (funding).  In addition, since funding is such an important function of funding, it prevents a representative from becoming entrenched in the system for 6 terms and susceptible to corruption of pork projects, reelection malfeasance,  and financial games.  Lastly, this would prevent people from shifting houses to reset the clock, excluding the possibility that someone could possibly serving full terms in both houses and finding a loophole around the intent.

Advantage:  Reduction of seniority and return to Meritocracy

The prevailing advantage of imposing such term limits is that it would remove seniority from that halls of congress and instead replace it with fresh ideas and competition, where those with the best proposals would be promoted thru the congressional leadership tiers.  No longer would members be given valuable committee chairs simply because they’ve earned the “right” by being in position for so long.  In fact, since all congressmen would be on relatively equal footing in terms of time in office, it would reward those with the best ideas to be moved up, replacing worn out “that’s the way we always done it” mentalities with a fresh air of competing ideas.  Those who show the most promise and forthright thought, will be given their chance at leadership rather than having to wait on their laurels because they have not “served their time”

Advantage:  More voter choice

It would allow the voters more choice, as it would drastically reduce the incumbents strangle hold on maintaining their position of power.  Consider this, we have imposed term limits on the President because of fear that they would wield too much power (as FDR did), however we don’t seem to worry about the same issue affecting the congress, the people who actually write and pass our laws and regulations.  Due to the amount of power that comes with a congressional seat, those previously elected have a large incentive to become reelected.  By limiting the amount of time that they can serve, we remove this incentive, thus increasing the turn over of our congressional houses and more fresh faces to choose from, as incumbents have an incredible advantage in campaigning over  challengers.  Due to having built in campaign offices (staff) who are in essence working for their own jobs, perks of the office such as junk mailer allowances, ability to campaign while remaining employed and earning a (tax payer funded) wage, etc, it makes it very hard for challengers to compete.  By implementing a term limit, these effects will diminish, as the incentive for reelection is not a prevalent consideration.  More choice equals more directional options. 

Advantage:  Diminished voter apathy

Going hand in hand with more choice is the fact that voter apathy will be reduced.  Due to a representative only being able to serve for a limited amount of time, voters voting on name recognition alone will begin to reduce.  Voters will have to start taking their time to research candidates to ensure that they know who they are voting for.  Voters will no long be able to attend the polling places with a mindset of  “we know what he’ll do, he’s done it for years”, instead, with fresh faces coming in every 6 to 12 years, then voters will need to be more involved in the elective process.  While not immediately apparent, as the systems starts to mature, as more candidates start cycling out of congress, this effect will grow until it becomes a normal part of our political lives.

Advantage:  Reduction of pork and special interest influences

Special interests are able to “invest” in representatives today.  Simply put, lobby groups know that incumbents have a enormous advantage in election cycles with our current system.  Therefore, they are able to groom (corrupt) politicians with lures of money for reelection bids, promises of moving work to districts in exchange for influence & consideration, etc.  However, if representatives were only able to be in office for short amounts of time, the return on their “investment” just isn’t there.  Why invest large amounts of money or move work into a district, when the chair will be vacant in a few short years and possibly replaced by someone not as cozy with special interest needs.  Sure, lobbyist will still exist and some corruption will still exist, but now they would have to make their cases more on merit rather than enticements.  Likewise, pork projects are a method to ensure that a representative gets reelected by bringing money into the district.  However, if a representative knows that he’s only in office for a limited time, he/she will be less likely to support the “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch your back” mentality when it comes to pork.  Why vote for another states pork, so that they will vote for yours, when it will do nothing to keep you in office any longer.  Instead, representatives will start slipping into a mode of state protection, looking out for the best interests of their state rather than what would get them a better reelection bid.  We will have representatives who start voting their principals rather than trading their votes for a possibility for improved reelection and growth of their power base.

Advantage:  Return to a citizen congress

I regard this as probably the most important advantage.  With term limits, the rise of the “ruling class” or “career politician” goes away.  No longer will someone be able to make a living as federal politician.  Instead, we will return to a scenario where our representatives who come from the real world, a business world.  Representatives will serve their country for a short time, then be expected to go back into the business world to earn their way.  By breaking the class of career politicians, we will get a couple of side effects.  First, we will get representatives who actually understand, and live by, the rules that they impose.  Be it doctors, lawyers, businessmen, or farmers, they will have an understanding of the harm that regulations, taxes, and  government interference wreck upon businesses, citizens, and the economy.  We will be putting the responsibility of such matters in the hands of people who are intimately aware of what it means to make a payroll, comply with stifling regulation, and financial impacts of legislation.  Second, we will find representatives who actually start operating with the primary objective of protecting and benefiting their constituencies.  After their terms, they will be having to go back and live within their communities, deal with the ramifications of their actions by the citizens they represent, and reap the rewards/consequences of their actions/laws passed.  Lastly, we will begin fostering a breed of representatives who are actually closer to the people that they represent, rather the politicians we have now, who may hail from a specific state, but spend most of their time on the beltway.  Due to the fact that they come from having to make a living outside of politics, they will be more inclined to spend more time at home districts maintaining that business/living.  This provides their constituents with greater access to their representatives, instead of leaving a voicemail (when mailbox not full) on a Washington, D.C. phone number.  What better way to take back the birthright of a government BY the  people, than to remove this ideal of a ruling/politician class and return it to the average citizen?

Yes, there are arguments against term limits, but most arguments just don’t stand up to a debate. 

Argument:  Term limits throw out the good politicians with the bad

Response:  Yes, we will lose some good politicians due to term limits, but the benefits far out weigh the risks.  Like a free market system, good ideas will rise to the top.  If a good politician comes along and is loved by his districts, then that will be seen and like minded people will fill his role.  In addition, term limits limit the time in office, not the time in politics.  A good representative can always serve as an advisor to new faces, help groom upcoming representatives in his methods, and further provide for his district.

Argument:  Reelections provide incentives for service.  With term limits, those incentives will disappear.

Response:  It’s possible, but personally I don’t believe it to be true.  We have a lot of people out there with good ideas for the direction of this country.  Truly patriotic people who one want to see America remain the beacon of hope and freedom for the world.  However, due to the advantage of incumbents, the amount of money currently required to run, and the fact that seniority prevents new ideas from being able to be successfully heard from freshman congressmen, I think most are discouraged from even trying.  Level the playing field, make the possibility of office achievable, and I think we will see more people seek office.  Isn’t that what this country is really about?  Providing opportunity and a chance to make better the lives of yourself, your family, and your countrymen?

Arguments:  Term Limits are Unconstitutional

Agreed that the founding fathers specifically decided not to put term limits into the Constitution, however, I don’t believe that they fully expected that 1. the people would allow the establishment of a ruling class via apathy or intentional gaming of the system  or 2. that people would become “career” politicians.  In fact, I can provide you with tons of quotes from our founding fathers illustrating the point that congressional service was expected to be a short term service in benefit of the nation (with possible exception for the Senate, due to the maturity and long term vision required).  In addition, if a term limit amendment was added, it would no longer be unconstitutional if constructed correctly.  While I’m a believer that the Constitution is on of the greatest documents ever gifted to mankind and that it should be interpreted strictly, the founders did provide us a method to change it when it became necessary to thwart tyranny.  It’s not easy, but I believe that current circumstances have dictated that we must make exceptions when effects  unseen by are founders start to pervert the meaning and intention of our government.  Career politicians and the ruling class are examples of that perversion.


As stated, this would not be an easy, or quick, undertaking.  We would first have to convince those in power to vote to limit that power, however, it’s a road we must travel.  It’s apparent that this is something that the voting public agrees with, as 23 states have already imposed term limits on their state legislatures and the time has come to impose those same limitations on the federal. 

Again, it won’t be easy, but we can help by only supporting those candidates in primary and general elections who agree on record to support a Constitutional Amendment to impose term limits.  When you go to your town halls or write letters to your representatives, ask them directly if the support congressional term limits.  If they refuse to answer, hold their feet to the fire and stand your ground demanding an answer be presented.  It’s simple, a yes or no answer will suffice, no explanation necessary.  If they do not, then ask them why?  Ask them why they are so unwilling to relinquish their power base?  Ask them if they fear having to live in a world of their own creating, and if they are not, then why the need to defend the establishment of a ruling class?  Lastly, ask them directly, if they truly feel they are more capable and knowledgeable with regards to what is best for their constituents than the very people they serve? 

Yes, I’m asking you to be direct.  Yes, I’m asking you to sometimes be obstinate with your representative.  Remember, you are THEIR employer.  They work for YOU!  It’s time to make them accountable and insist that they answer the important questions  We have been lazy for far too long.  It’s time we take back our government.

My reason for fixing them in office for a term of years, rather than for life, was that they might have an idea that they were at a certain period to return into the mass of the people and become the governed instead of the governors which might still keep alive that regard to the public good that otherwise they might perhaps be induced by their independence to forget.

- Thomas Jefferson

The security intended to the general liberty consists in the frequent election and in the rotation of the members of Congress.

- James Madison & Alexander Hamilton, 1782

The issue today is the same as it has been throughout all history, whether man shall be allowed to govern himself or be ruled by a small elite.

- Thomas Jefferson


Post a Comment