Term Limits: Where We Are In Making Them a Reality

A limit of three official terms for members of Congress and two terms for Senators would be ideal for America’s representatives, and it is time we enact term limits to make this dream a reality.

These rules would make elections fairer for challengers, and they would also offer several benefits for the nation.

The mere fact that someone has served for several years does not dictate the quality of the elected officials, but term limits would guarantee that substandard officials could no longer serve.

After leaving office, politicians could still be involved in politics and/or policy but not in the same elected role.

Incumbents have tremendous advantages when seeking reelection.

First, and most obviously, it is much easier for incumbents to raise money because individuals and political parties will contribute to them (in many cases to secure political favors in the future).

Additionally, political parties help fund and support incumbents’ campaigns. Because challengers do not have this money, they have less to spend on campaigns, and their chances of victory decrease.

Second, special interest organizations will send mailers, advertise, and activate their networks for politicians who have helped them in the past.

Other advantages include an established and experienced political staff, previously collected voter and volunteer data, name recognition, and the goodwill of individuals and groups (civic organizations, etc.) with whom the politician and/or his staff has met or helped throughout his term.

Term limits would likely have the greatest impact in primaries rather than general elections because the districts or states would probably still vote based on their previous party affiliations. For example, if they had voted for a Democrat in the past, they would probably vote for a Democrat in the future. The benefit of term limits would be a new voice in Washington who is free of the disadvantages which incumbents bring.

They wouldalso help eliminate the tension that exists between Congressmen and Senators’ desire to keep their position and their duty to pass beneficial laws. One must not forget that, for Congressmen and Senators, serving in office is their job.

To keep their jobs (i.e., get reelected), Congressmen and Senators know that they need donations and that the special interest groups or individuals providing these funds expect a certain vote or bill in return for their contributions. s

Consequently, when given the choice, Congressmen and Senators often support and pass legislation which favors their financial benefactors rather than the districts or states that the Congressmen and Senators represent.

Term limits would assist in eradicating this problem because it would remove the possibility of multiple reelection campaigns and the need to fundraise. In a related manner, term limits may limit the partisan divide because politicians would be free to vote for the other parties’ initiatives without fear of their own party withholding funds from their reelection campaigns.

Third, without term limits, it is difficult to remove a leader that is not doing a good job. This challenge contributes to the reality that many problems in Washington are never solved.

Fourth, by eliminating layers of seniority, term limits would give more power to junior members to move their legislation forward or chair committees.

Fifth, term limits would limit the likelihood of friendships or “owed favors” which may prevent harsh negotiations or investigations into wrongdoing by another politician.

It is unlikely that the Congress or Senate would pass term limits because they would not want to eliminate their own jobs. The path to term limits, therefore, would be through a Constitutional amendment. Congressmen and Senators could also self-limit their number of terms and thereby set a positive example for other officials.

Author: Michael Abramson

Source: Newsmax: Times Up: The Need for Term Limits

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