Term Limits

Congress has an approval rating that hovers around 9%, but here’s the problem: Incumbents have re-election rates of around 90%. This suggests we have a hard time firing people who we think are doing a lousy job for us. A major reason for this is that corporate and special interests and other big donors party interests supply those they control with massive amounts of money to keep them in office. One key way to combat this is to enact a term limits amendment.

Today we have members of Congress from both parties who have served for 30, 40, and even 50 years there. I don’t believe this is what the founding fathers had in mind. Instead, the Constitution’s framers envisioned public servants who would “lay down their plows for a season of service” and then return to their communities to again live as one of the governed.

The reality of human nature is that the longer people spend time in Washington the less responsive they tend to be to the people who sent them there. Worse yet, those in Congress now who have been there for such a long time are taking seats in Washington that could go to new faces and a younger generation of public servants with new ideas. It’s time for change in Washington.

That’s why, in addition to other Congressional reforms I have recommended, I support a constitutional amendment that establishes congressional term limits, to include years of service prior to the amendment’s enactment. This amendment would, if adopted, bring about a massive, immediate change in Congress.

I want to end the thinking that suggests that only a select few Americans can serve in Congress, and that it is a place to go to advance a career rather than to serve. Such a change will open Congress to more youthful Americans and people from outside the political arena who are willing to serve for a time and then return to their communities.

If a politician is truly a great public servant and wants to continue to serve, it doesn’t hurt our nation to allow that individual sit out a few years, watching from the bench, for awhile to regain the people’s perspective, and then seeking re-election without the benefit of incumbency.