Term Limits: solution or problem?

Would setting limits to the number of terms a Congressperson can hold office help solve the problem in Washington, D.C.? Term limits is one proposed remedy for fixing Congress. Get rid of the career politicians! Fresh faces would be closer to the people they represent, set a new tone, and get things done.The idea has its appeal.

We’re tired of gridlock,but is putting fresh faces in the U.S. Congress – or the White House – all it’s cracked to be?

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AK) rode into the Senate on a high horse, penned a letter to the government of Iran opposing the Obama Administration’s diplomatic efforts with Iran, and secured the signatures of 46 of the 53 Republican Senatorial colleagues. In March 2015 the newly elected Senator appeared on Face the Nation to make his case for Iran’s creeping influence in the Middle East, declaring,

“They [the Iranians] already control Tehran.”

Did he say “Tehran” – the capitol of Iran, the Tehran of the Persian Empire dating back 5,000 years?

Yes, he did. Either the Senator came to the Senate clueless about geography, history, the sensitivities of a tense geopolitical world, and the traditions of how foreign policy is conducted in the United States, or, worse, he just doesn’t care. Neither is acceptable for a member of the United States Senate. The Senate is the body with the longer terms (six years compared to 2 for the House of Representatives) because of the Founders’ wisdom. Those who wrote the Constitution knew the value of continuity, as well as change.

In the much more complex world of the 21st Century, the case for longevity, not term limits, is an argument for wisdom.

Citizens who have served as city councilors, state legislators, or board members of local organizations, colleges and universities know how long it takes to get up to speed. Those who are most effective learn to keep their mouths shut while learning how to drive a vehicle they’ve never driven before in the company of more experienced drivers who know the rules of the road.

The advantage of long-standing service in the U.S. Congress or of a Presidential candidate with longer experience and long-term memory is that they’ve been around long enough to know the history, however differently they interpret it on different sides of the political aisle.

And then…there’s Donald Trump who has NO experience in elected office. If you need a nudge to think about it, remember the ambitious Senator Cotton on Face the Nation.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, Feb. 25, 2016

6 thoughts on “Term Limits: solution or problem?

  1. I am, as the Germans say, so wie so (roughly, up and down) about this. Absolutely true, Tom Cotton made a number of glaring errors, but I am not convinced they were due to lack of knowledge of how the system works. I think he may well have gone to Washington with the intent to “blow it up,” and I suspect that the worse he behaved, the happier were the voters who sent him there.

    The other problem that term limits would solve is that posed by career politicians. Some came in as relative youths, and have stayed so long — it’s *really* hard to unseat politicians — that they think their positions are sinecures. Look at this Congress, packed with loooonnnnggggg serving people refusing to do their job, literally, in the case of the Supreme Court, refusing. It is just possible that a politician who was aware that he had just two terms, say two for arguments sake, might not have time to feel entrenched. Of course on the other side their second term would be pure lame duck territory, and they could just forget the voters entirely.

    A program of stringent campaign finance reform coupled with reasonable cuts in salary and benefits is the only way to be sure candidates are running to serve the people rather than to line their pockets or wallow in love of power.

    Listen to me pronouncing! Well, I have thought about this a lot, but still……


    • Carolyn, Couldn’t agree more about entrenched politicians not doing their jobs as, for example, refusing to consider a Supreme Court nominee. If we fix Citizen’s United and were able to put in place a publicly funded election system, I believe the problem would take care of itself. They sit there forever because big money supports them. My two cents worth…BTW, never worry about going on too long. These topics require a much more thorough treatment than allowed on a blow-hard blog!


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