Saturday, January 16, 2010

Term Limits: A Ridiculous Policy

The failing economy has turned many Americans into ‘garage-politicians’: people who become political and economic experts by religiously watching Glenn Beck or Keith Olbermann. Many of these garage-politicians are blaming their legislators for their apathy, laziness, or indifference towards their constituency’s economic and financial needs. This heated view of their elected officials has led many Americans to support a policy change that would flush out the legislature and allow the American people a new start with a fresh set of legislators. This new policy is term limits. This change in policy is ridiculous, because our Republic has built-in term limits: voting.

Some Americans argue that imposing term limits will save the country from the political ravishing of career-politicians who care more for reelection than in performing their duties as entrusted by their constituencies. While it may be true that some legislators care more for reelection than in adhering to the Constitution, this point is irrelevant for enacting term limits. The bedrock of our country is the ability of the people to elect new leaders when they dislike or disagree with the job their leaders have performed. Voting reflects the beliefs, biases, knowledge, ignorance, desires, and social temperance of the people. If the people like the results of their leaders, the voters will reelect them into office – regardless of the personal motives of the leader. If the people cannot vote out their elected Representative who is violating the Constitution, what safeguard will term-limits provide from the people reelecting another scoundrel who will violate the Constitution?

Further arguments promoting term limits seek to protect the voting minorities. By reducing the amount of time an elected-leader can serve in office, the minority-voters can be given a greater chance of electing a candidate that reflects their views. This is preposterous. Voting reflects the will of the majority, and, in a society that openly accepts Democracy, the voting citizen should maintain consistency by showing little interest to the losing minority. The minority has never been graciously granted the win. Even if term limits were applied, the majority would continue to elect the new legislator.

By voting in career-politicians, a larger social problem is observed than what term limits will solve. Voters should concern themselves with the motives of their legislators, not just the results the leaders can produce. Reelecting politicians that only care about their occupation shows the apathy and carelessness of the people electing them into office. Changing the face of a career-politician every few terms will not solve the issues of an apathetic and careless society, nor will term limits have any positive influence on an interested and careful society. In fact, term-limits will only provide the illusion of protection, as the people more ignorantly trust term-limits to save them from Constitution violating legislators instead of their own scrutinizing gaze. The people are the problem, not the politicians. Our Republic has a built in term limit policy that is directly connected to the will of the people, and it should stay that way.

Update: March 9th, 2010

I had a recent conversation with a fellow who argued that our elections systems were corrupt and that the voting polls were fixed. He had several convincing examples to illustrate his point. He used these examples to reason that we should support term limits: to get the corruptly elected officials out of office!

While this sounds reasonable, I am still left wondering why this guy thinks that if -- perchance -- our voting system is so corrupt that a candidate was elected through fraud (without being caught), then what made him believe that hosting another election would produce a different type of candidate? Wouldn't the same group who successfully/fraudulently got the last man in to office also have the ability of doing it again after term of years? Term limits would do nothing to solve this problem.

If any particular group has hijacked our elections systems, term limits are the least of our concerns.


Nelson Lee Walker of said...

1814 characters 314 words
The only infallible, unstoppable, guaranteed way to get a truly new Congress is :

The American voter must IMPOSE term limits by NEVER REELECTING ANYONE IN CONGRESS, AND DO IT EVERY ELECTION! In other words, don't let anyone serve more than one term. That's the only way to teach them that the voter is boss! The “one term limit” can be eased AFTER citizens get control of Congress.

Congress will never allow us to constitutionally term limit them by an amendment. Our only choice is to NEVER REELECT them. All of them!

The number of ‘good guys’ left in Congress is negligible, so if we threw ALL 535 members out, we wouldn’t do as much damage as the good we would gain by turning Congress into a bunch of honest, innocent freshmen.

Some of the reasons in favor of this approach:

• It gives us a one-term-limited Congress without using an amendment
• It encourages ordinary citizens to run for Congress
• It is supported by 70% of the country (see Rasmussen and Cato polls)
• It is completely nonpartisan
• If repeated, it ends career politicians in Congress
• It opens the way to a “citizen Congress” of guys like you and me
* It would open a torrent of fresh ideas to improve our government
• It ends the seniority system that keeps freshmen powerless
• It doesn’t cost money. But you MUST vote! Just don’t vote for an incumbent
• It takes effect immediately on Election Day
• It is the only infallible, unstoppable, guaranteed way to “Throw the Bums Out”
• When the ‘pros’ stop running, ordinary citizens will run, and win
• If it doesn’t work, do it again and again! It will work eventually,without a doubt.


Nelson Lee Walker of
Email for your free NEVER REELECT bumper sticker

Shiloh Logan said...

Mr. Walker, you missed my entire point. The problem is not with the incumbents or career politicians -- it's with the people. "A man is no less a slave because he may choose his master once in a term of years" (Lysander Spooner). How do we have career politicians in our Constitutional Republic? By people electing them into office! The representatives didn't vote for themselves! We have an ignorant and an apathetic populace, what good will it do to merely change the face of tyranny every 2 years if the people aren't awake to what is going on with their government? You think merely changing the face will change the knowledge (or ignorance), aptitude, and apathy of our people in who they elect? I can find a hundred neoconservatives who are more than willing to run for office -- how will changing our Representatives between these 100 wealthy neocons every 2 years ever solve anything? If the people accept the insane ideology, it doesn't matter who occupies the position -- the people will vote like-minded people into office whether they have to change the face of tyranny or keep the same face for a term of years! If the number of "'good guys' in office is negligible" -- how'd the bad guys get elected over and over again? They were either elected because of the ignorance and apathy of the people in not knowing what their Representative is doing or they agree with the insane ideology held by their Representative. No matter how you look at it, term limits make absolutely no difference whatsoever.

That said, I do have fun voting out judges every election cycle -- it's just my thing.

BEN said...

Someone suggested to me once that instead of "electing" our representatives, that they be chosen at random from the populace to serve a term. Every term a new person is chosen by random raffle.
This system sounds marginally better, with of course some philosophical problems. The structure still suffers though because it is still prone to corruption and once the first term is chosen, what is to stop them from ending the practice and putting it back to the old way?
No, the true answer is education of people on the principles of liberty and freedom. If we work hard to get the message of freedom out, people will govern themselves, or at least be more inclined to choose candidates who will preserve instead of destroy liberty.
The problem with our government isn't so much its form as it is its function. The form was meant to preserve the function, but over time it has failed. The key is not to start with changing the form of government, but rather its function. A change in form does nothing without a change in function. We need to change what powers government has and what is generally accepted as the proper role of government. Once this is done, the structure of how people are elected and how bills are passed etc. will naturally take care of itself.

Taylor Cane said...

Uh, I'm against this for one simple reason... Ron Paul.

I want him in office till the day he dies!

The problem isn't that our politicians become corrupted and loose their principles after they are elected, the problem is that they never had an principles to start with, and yet we elect them, then reelect them.

These people are trying to treat the symptoms instead of the disease they are too unwilling to accept even exists. Sad day.

Shiloh Logan said...

Good observation Taylor.