Monday, January 14, 2013

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Constitutional Convention...

Years ago, I heard someone famous say that (and I'm paraphrasing) the reason we have so many laws that align with common sense is that someone decided that the government needed to enforce the things we're no longer willing to do for ourselves. It is precisely this sentiment that drives my complete opposition to the idea of mandated term limits, as I'll explain below.

Waiting In Line for Bread While Eating A Donut
We don't need term limits. We already have them. The idea that we need mandated (i.e. legislated) term limits is pretty absurd to me. The Constitution already provides for a regularly scheduled removal/approval process for our Representatives and Senators. Anyone who denies this is apparently unfamiliar with the voting process. Some will say that I'm being naive about this and that the American voter is too apathetic to properly work the process nowadays. I argue just the opposite. I say that those pushing for mandated term limits aren't giving the process a chance and aren't thinking the idea through very well. Asking for something that we already have in our hands is pretty lame. What we need to be doing is encouraging voter responsibility and understanding that there are other people in the room who may vote differently than us, no matter how sure we are that they're wrong.

What About The Good Ones?
Most of the knee-jerk, emotional crying for Term Limits fails to consider the Good Ones... those Representatives and Senators who truly are doing a good job of representing the voice of those they serve. They may be far and few between, but they're still there. When we cry that the government should not punish all of the people because of the actions of a few, we should take the same stance when thinking of our government. There's a reason why some members of Congress continue to get re-elected... it's because the people they represent (at least a majority of the voters) ask them to stay, like it or not. If we grow tired of the ones we have in power, then it's our JOB to elect someone new. The real problem is that nobody WANTS their job.

I believe that our Founders left out mandatory term limits on purpose. They had the faith that the good people of the United States would WANT to be involved with their government and would keep it under control by using the tools they had been given. They did, after all, consider the Constitutional government of the United States as a great experiment.

Danger, Will Robinson! Danger! Danger!
Mandated Term Limits, especially on such a broad scale as within both chambers of Congress could have some disastrous effects that most people simply aren't willing to examine. Think about this. Think about having half of the government changing jobs, by force, every 2-6 years. Think about all of the works in progress that will have to be abandoned and handed off to new people who haven't been involved in the process. Think of all the bridges that will be burned in the turnover. If you think that they don't get anything done now, just wait until good relationships between lawmakers are forcibly broken because we, the people, became too complacent to be involved in the process. Think of the corruption... when a Senator of questionable morals or scruples is facing mandatory firing and decides that he or she will do anything they possibly can to mess things up as much as possible... either out of spite or for their own personal benefit... or both. The result of mandatory term limits will be "Lame Duck Syndrome" on a massive scale.

What will we do when we suddenly lose a good Representative, who has been serving the people well, to someone of little experience and questionable character simply because we have to put "someone" in the seat? How will the people react to the practice of "selective grooming" by the corrupt politicians to ensure that "their heir" is the one elected to fill their seat? The dangers of mandated term limits FAR outweigh their perceived benefits. 

Mirror, Mirror
So what do we do? Well, we get involved in ensuring that the people elected to office truly represent our beliefs and listen to us instead of telling us what they want to do. We get involved by holding those we elect accountable for their actions. We do a double check of the reflection in the mirror and make sure we're not being too hypocritical. It's often said that those currently in government are out of control and not representing the public, but there's considerable proof that the opposite is true. We have a government addicted to credit and spending without limits, while a majority of U.S. households are deep in debt, but continue to spend record amounts on non-necessities. We have a government rife with scandal: drugs, infidelity, tax cheats, deceitfulness... and yet we fill our evenings in front of the television to watch shows centered around the same things. Our very lives are full of the same things and we glorify it on television but are shocked when it happens in Congress. 

Reality Check
No, friends, the solution is not term limits. The solution is looking around at our very surroundings... at our peers... at ourselves, and understanding that we are all flawed and no matter who we elect, they're probably going to be flawed too. We have to get involved. We have to replace Dancing With The Stars with educating ourselves as to how our government is supposed to operate. We have to put focus on the States and strip the federal government of so much authoritative power that is has assumed over the decades. We need to come to terms with the fact that this is supposed to be the government "of the people" and that if we fail to take an active, involved, and educated part in it, then we will, indeed lose the Republic that was given to us. Term limits will not do this for us... only we can do it.


  1. Two points...first, one of the best arguments I hear is "All of them need to go...except my guy. He is good." Therein lies the problem with the is always someone else's "guy" or "gal" who is bad and needs to go. Second, regarding lame ducks. Not only do you get that, but can you imagine the number of new lobbyists a term limited system would create? We think there are a lot now...if we turned over Congress every 2,4 or 6 years...Holy Cow! And, many would argue that Lobbyists are part of the problem we have.

    1. I totally agree that lobbyists are a huge part of the problem. Therein lies my push for smaller, more limited, more Constitutional federal government, along with a push to power to the state level. The lobbyist movement has grown due largely to the fact that our Federal Representatives now spend more time in D.C. than at home, with the people they are supposed to represent. This time away from home keeps them out of "the watchful eye" of those who elected them... exactly as many Founders feared.