Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Term Limits

The term-limit debate has been an issue of contention not only today in the United States government but also in the democracies and republics of antiquity. Thomas Jefferson urged a limitation of tenure, “to prevent every danger which might arise to American freedom by continuing too long in office the members of the Continental Congress….” and George Mason said, “Nothing is so essential to the preservation of a Republican government as a periodic rotation.” I would contend that having gambled their lives and fortunes, our forefathers desired to do what was right for the nation rather than their own individual aspirations.

The United States Congress is supposed to be comprised of citizen legislator who temporarily leave their careers to represent the people of their respective states which is what I intend to do. I absolutely support and would proudly propose a constitutional amendment for term limits in the United States Congress. The Democrats and Republicans had the ability to vote for an amendment in 1994 but failed to do so.

Often the argument is offered that we already have term limits via the ballot box. This argument may have merit if we were looking at an educated electorate however unfortunately, on average, less than 50% of the people participate, and I would argue that of that 50% many do not educate themselves on the issue but vote for a party because that is what they have always done. I know this, for at one time in my life I was one of those people. I voted Republican because my parents voted Republican. It was not until I began to educate myself when I began to vote for the person whom I truly believed would be the best candidate.

There is also the argument that having term limits does not allow enough time to learn and navigate the system. I contend that with term limits the system should not be as convoluted, barriers would be reduced and business would be accomplished. Another argument is that it takes time to build relationships and work across the isle; I would say the problem is having but one isle.

Money has the propensity to corrupt the best of man, especially when money is doled out freely. As special interest groups, unions, and corporations give money to incumbents, they do expect a return on their investment and that return is not always in the best interest of America as a whole. Incumbents have an unjust advantage running for re-election. They have the ability to use taxpayer money to promote their message. Consider how much mail is sent to you by your legislator during an election year compared to the other years and we pay the postage. How much time is spent by legislators running for re-election while in office rather than doing their job, which is to create, read, comprehend, and pass or deny legislation to the benefit of the people, not special interests!

In business, the boards of directors occasionally change out the management to bring in fresh perspectives. Government should be conducted with an efficient businesslike model. Since the average American does not take the time to study and watch the performance but rather elects their representatives from what they see in thirty-second sound bites a system needs to be in place to ensure fresh perspectives are brought forth which is accomplished through a change in managements.

The Constitution was written to keep man from his best intentions for this I would propose that no one should be able to run for office in the United States Congress after having been in office ten years in either chamber.