Congressional Term Limits

The President of the United States has term limits. Governors have term limits. Mayors have term limits. The Greek and Roman democracies were based on strict concepts of rotational leadership and representation. In a democracy a permanent entrenched political class undermines the fundamental principle of our republic, a government of the people, by the people and for the people.

Unfortunately, most of our current elected members of Congress don’t believe in that premise. According to most polls they also don’t meet the expectations of their constituents. Congress has an approval rating of only 11%, however, re-election rates for incumbents are 95%. In politics money is more important than ideas and the political machine favors the voices of special interest donors far more than the interests of its constituents. Money buys media and media can and does influence opinion and votes. Elected officials spend 30-70% of their working days fundraising. When do they have the time to reflect on the peoples’ business and on governing?

Just like we instituted term limits for the President, we must institute term limits for Congress. Two terms for the Senate, six terms for the House of Representatives, maximum. Our Representatives will then have the time and incentive to shift their focus from the donor class to the constituent class. That’s what our Constitution demands of elected officials, that they are in office to secure and advance the peoples’ interests.

I recognize that this is an uphill battle but term limits is a cause which has widespread support throughout the country, but not in Washington DC. Right now there are many movements to reform the political process, from changing voting rules to limiting the impact of money in politics. In local initiatives (when they can get their issues on the ballot) they tend to prevail. However, the principal culprit to our
dysfunctional democracy is the rigged system that is the United States Congress. No other solution can have a greater impact on reforming the system than term limits. This is a cause I will take on.