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