As promised, my thoughts on term limits and why we greatly need them.
Why We Need Term Limits
Today, there are 535 voting members of Congress. There are 435 Representatives and 100 Senators. Out of all of these 5 have been in office for over 40 years or longer, 19 have been in office for 30-39 years, 63 have been in office for 20-29 years, 120 have been in office for 10-19 years, and lastly 328 have been in office for less than 10 years1,2. I believe that the future for America is always bright because it is always what we make it. This is the joy of a representative democracy – it is government “of the people, by the people and for the people.3” However, with that said it would be naive to not admit that we have real, big problems. The national debt is at 17 trillion dollars which looks like $17,000,000,000,000. That is $53,529 for every citizen. Recently, the credit rating of the U.S. was downgraded by Standard and Poor from AAA to AA+. In other words, we as a country are being told that our trustworthiness is going down. Unemployment is at 7.5% though some argue that the “real unemployment rate” is at 14.3%, the number of citizens that are in poverty is at 46.5 million people or 15%, our prisons have 2.3 million people incarcerated compared to 500,000 in 19804,5,6. The problems in our country keep becoming bigger and bigger and yet the only thing getting lower is Congress’ approval rating which is at a whopping 5%! These facts I believe will bring up two thoughts; if our leaders are failing why are they still in office? Which I believe will lead you to the second thought which is the answer and solution to the first: we need term limits.
Let me firstly propose that our country needs term limits because it was never designed to have, as the founders called them, “career politicians.” To prove this let’s look at our first President. George Washington completed his second term-at the insistence of Congress- as President of the United States of America. He refused to run for a third term, which by doing so would set an example that the future 30 Presidents would follow ending in 1945 when Franklin D. Roosevelt would die 83 days into serving his fourth term. Following Roosevelt’s death, Congress would quickly introduce and pass the 22nd Amendment limiting Presidents to two terms and making the precedent set by Washington law. Many Americans felt after Roosevelt that having a President serve longer then two terms was bad for the country.8 Many Americans believe today that having members of Congress serve longer than two or three terms is also bad for the country which is why we need to pass term limits for all members of Congress.
The problem with having a Representative or Senator serve longer then two or three terms is that it creates a “career politician.” Alexander Hamilton is quoted as saying, “The natural cure for an ill administration, in a popular or representative constitution, is a change of men.”9 When our country was founded it was founded with the idea that those who rule over the people would eventually be the ruled. It was never intended that citizens would get elected to public office and then would die there. However, many have died while in office, in fact 1,113 members of Congress have died in office since the beginning of the nation10. Now, 60 members of Congress have died of non-natural causes varying between air-plane crashes to duels to skiing accidents11. So that would leave 1,053 members of Congress dying of natural causes while in office. There are many perks to dying in office among them your family gets the full wages of a Congressman’s salary, upon your death which is currently at $174,000 dollars.12 Living members of Congress get special deals with airline companies, they get a pension plan after only working 6 years in Congress, they get a $40,000 dollar shopping spree account to furnish their office in their home state, they get a free company car, a free month of vacation in August and lastly free access to a top-scale gym, even though the American taxpayer paid for a gym inside the Capitol which no one, not even the media, has seen13,14. These are depressing examples of the seat of government being used for personal gain and could be completely avoided if we had term limits.
To be continued…