We need term limits now


The odds of being re-elected to Congress are staggeringly high, and as Jay Haug points out in his blog titled "Why Congressional Approval Ratings Are Meaningless," it's been that way for a very long time with one notable exception -- the 1980 Senate election.  In 1994, the year of the Contract with America, Republicans pledged to bring to the House Floor within 100 days of being sworn in several pieces of legislation including The Citizen Legislature Act that would limit the number of terms of Senators to 2 and the number of terms of House members to either 3 or 6. 

That bill did reach the House Floor, and it passed by a vote of 227 to 204.  It would have limited the terms of Senators to 2 and the terms of House members to 6, but amendments to the Constitution require a two-thirds majority or 290 votes so it accomplished nothing.  As 2011 draws to a close, we still don't have a term limit amendment to the Constitution for members of Congress and talk about a term limit amendment to the Constitution is still just that -- talk.

Since 1994,our nation's deficit and debt problems have spiraled out of control; Standard and Poor's has downgraded US debt; we've raced toward socialism at breakneck speed; and presidents routinely bypass Congress to advance their agendas despite the fact that Congress has the authority to impose spending controls that it deems necessary.  In other words, Congress can prevent a president from acting unilaterally if it so chooses.  The only thing missing is the will to act.

Haug concludes by saying,

"Here is the bottom line. If Americans really plan on doing anything about Congress, two things will eventually happen. First, voters will demand that the whole idea of 'safe districts' be dismantled by an independent commission, turning Congressional races more competitive and therefore more susceptible to turnover. Secondly, regardless of redistricting, voters will be more willing to vote their own congressman out of office."

I beg to differ.  This is the bottom line.  Unless voters demand an amendment to the Constitution that will limit the terms of office of senators and House members, nothing will change.  We know for a fact that once our legislators have established themselves in office they suddenly think that they are indispensible, and they cut deals to protect their coveted seats.  We need to show them that they are wrong.

Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia.  His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.  His latest book is titled If You Voted for Obama in 2008 to Prove You're Not a Racist, You Need to Vote for Someone Else in 2012 to Prove You're Not an Idiot.

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