We need term limits to remind members of Congress of reality. Former Sen. George McGovern, after spending 18 years in Congress attempted to have a successful small business and after failing, he reflected by saying, “I wish I had known a little more about the problems of the private sector…. I have to pay taxes, meet a payroll — I wish I had a better sense of what it took to do that when I was in Washington”15. Members of Congress don’t have any true sense of reality and it is because they are in the non-reality of Washington for too long. It is like when a young child plays a video game hours upon hours. The child’s mother will repeatedly ask him to go play outside, go clean his room or tell him it’s time to eat but the child is completely entranced in a non reality. When the child finally gets off the game his eyes have to readjust to the lighting of the real world. This is what many members of Congress need to do.
So we need term limits, but how do we make this happen? Article V of the Constitution states, “The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution…”16 Therefore, Congress could pass an Amendment creating term limits for Senators and Representatives but do we really think members of Congress will vote themselves out of office? Not likely. Because of this the States must pass an Amendment. The second part of Article V says, “the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States. “17 This means that if 34 States called for a Convention proposing term limits for Congress as an Amendment to the Constitution and if 38 States ratified the proposed Amendment we could have term limits for Congress and our nation would change drastically for the better.
However, despite popular support for term limits and the evidence shown here many are opposed to the idea of creating term limits for Congress. David C. King of the Boston Sunday Herald has argued, “We already have term limits. They’re called elections.”18 I would like to counter his statement by saying that there is a tremendous advantage that the incumbent enjoys which makes it extremely difficult for voters to vote the incumbent out of office. Yes, I realize that this is part of the democratic process but many voters are disillusioned because they know that the turnover rate for an incumbent is very low. By having term limits we make the election process more democratic for the American people and we also increase the field of candidates. Typically, when facing an incumbent only one or two people will attempt to run but in an open election as many as seven or eight people will run for the office. By having term limits we ensure that voters are given more choices and are given more control over what happens in Washington.
As our country enters the middle of the second decade of the 21st Century there are many challenges facing us from every area. We have mentioned many issues that we the people can effect by choosing the leaders we elect to take on the issues. However, the issues become the casualty in political games that members of Congress play, when they are left in D.C. for too long and they fall prey to bribes, special interests and personal gain. This is wrong and needs to be stopped. The best way for this to happen, as has been shown, is to ensure that those that we elect to Washington do not stay in Washington. By passing term limits for members of Congress we make a step toward deleting politician form our vocabulary and restoring the idea of an American statesman.