Term limits; a way to fix our federal government

A majority of Americans believe that term limits for federally-elected officials is the right way to reform government. Term limits are a national issue best dealt with through a Constitutional Amendment promoted by the grassroots voices that are not being heard by the professional politicians ensconced in Washington, D.C. This is a call to action to be part of the effort to convince the Congress and the media that Americans overwhelmingly desire federal term limits.

            When the Founding Fathers promulgated the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, they envisioned a government of checks and balances where sweeping changes would be difficult to pass into the law of the land. They believed that the cadre of state senators and representatives would arise from the more successful business leaders across the land whose leadership and integrity brought them the support of voters. The Founding fathers believed that those men and women would make a huge sacrifice of personal time and effort for the good of the country as a whole, but after a few years, that sacrifice would make them eager to return to the private sector. Since the era of the professional politician began that grand vision has become obscured.

There is a fountainhead of people with good ideas and the will to try and implement them. Tenacious members of Congress who have installed themselves as permanent fixtures on Capitol Hill stand in the way of opening the floodgates of ideas and opportunities for talented individuals to participate in government. Term limits, codified via a Constitutional Amendment, will ensure more participants from the populace and guarantee the end of entrenched political entities. Term limits bring in new people with fresh ideas who are willing to take chances and return the power of government to where it belongs—to We the People.

For democracy to work, it must be representative—a government of, by, and for the people. It has become nearly impossible to defeat a congressional incumbent. In the 2008 election cycle 94-percent of incumbents, sitting members of Congress, defeated their challengers despite the fact that Congress’ approval rating, already at historic lows, continues to decline. In the name of democracy the members of Congress use our tax dollars to mail out campaign publicity, dole out favors and earmark spending in return for votes and campaign donations, and impose more taxation while spending the nation to the brink of bankruptcy. Career politicians have rooted themselves into a most undemocratic system for protecting their jobs.

The majority of the 535 members of the Senate and the House of Representatives are afraid to tackle the issues that are of highest concern to the taxpayers because doing so will jeopardize their chances of re-election. Without term limits our nation remains at the mercy of an exclusive club that ignores the voices of the people who put them in office. An estimated 82-percent of Americans support term limits because our government is no longer of, by, and for the people. Columnist George Will got it right when he wrote, “If the political class fought the nation’s problems as tenaciously as it fights term limits, America would be a paradise by next Tuesday.”

Lacking term limits, too many House and Senate seats become political geriatric wards for professional politicians. The longer a politician stays in Congress, the more they become inured by the lure of wielding authority and more beholden to their party and the special interests that dominate politics. Term limits have been established for thousands of local officials, 36 state governorships, and 15 state legislatures. With very few exceptions, term limits have been approved by voters every time they have been placed on the ballots. An amendment to the Constitution of the United States is a common sense solution to gridlocked government. The strongest opposition to this common sense solution is to be found in the halls of Congress because term limits are a threat to the careers of professional politicians and the burgeoning number of federal bureaucrats who staff the politicians’ offices.

Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown said in his January 19 victory speech, that the American people are frustrated by a government that has become aloof to the voices of their constituents, and we can do better. One of the most obsequious phrases bandied around today is “our government is broken,” but that statement is incorrect. The government is not broken, but too many elected politicians have failed to represent the opinions of their constituents, and thus, failed to govern the country. Instead, they have become tax-and-spend advocates of every-day-is-election day for an exclusive club of power brokers more interested in maintaining their status quo than guiding the welfare and security of the nation they were elected to serve. Americans demand that our elected leaders do better, but improving the functionality of government means we must first rid the Halls of Congress of the elitists holding sway in the District of Columbia.

The government set up by the Founding Fathers remains the world’s preeminent framework for a representative republic under democratic rule. It is the incumbents in Congress who have perverted the tenets of democracy for personal gain and aggrandizement. By turning into professional politicians who seek only to be re-elected, to benefit from health care and retirement plans the average taxpayers and voters will never have, and to use their positions of power to reward the special interests that fund them, our elected leaders have time after time failed to lead the country. Being elected to a seat in the House or the Senate should not be a conduit to lifetime employment and benefits at taxpayers’ expense. Term limits will change the culture of ruling class aloofness that permeates the Beltway.

Term limits will improve the quality of our nation’s government, and diminish the quantity. The Founding Fathers’ great invention of the structure and function of the United States’ federal system of checks and balances created the highest quality government ever seen on this planet. The rise of career politicians has saddled the country with a quantity of government that cannot be sustained because it has become an engorged entity unrecognizable as government of the people, for the people, by the people.

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About zingstrom

Journalist, free-lance writer, photographer and aviator.
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2 Responses to Term limits; a way to fix our federal government

  1. Ron Zech says:

    Wow it was well written, and well researched. In any company or organization it takes new blood and new ideas to grow or else it will become stale. Term limits would make it happen. You must have learned something from the tough English teacher in Karlstad. Ron.

  2. For a different take on term limits, see my paragraph “Term Limits with a Twist” in my posting “What I Want from My Government”. You can serve as many terms as you wish, but none of them can be consecutive. No desperate seeking of funds for re-election. Incumbents cannot run!

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