WHY TERM LIMITS ARE A TERRIBLE IDEA

I keep reading the same crap. Why is this so hard to understand?

So you believe term-limits will solve our political problems. Why would you think that? Are “old timers” in congress the big problem — as opposed to the bloated egos and narrow minds of those you voted for? How about those inexperienced, right-wing religious nutters? The Tea Party crowd? They were recently elected , have no understanding of how government works, and care nothing for the American people. Look how much they’ve fixed everything. Yeah, that went well.

72-vote-election-2016-sign

Exactly what problem do you think you solve by making terms shorter? Will that attract a better quality of candidates for office? Will it convince people to vote for better candidates? Doesn’t this past presidential election prove that people will vote for a bad candidate even when all logic and reason should tell them he or she will not to serve their interests?

So you believe we will get better government if no one in congress gets to stay for a long time. Why would inexperience result in better government? Would you choose an inexperienced surgeon? A lawyer fresh out of law school? A barber who has never cut any hair? In what field do we prefer raw recruits to proven veterans?

Oh, right, the presidency. How’s that working for you?

Why do you want amateurs making your laws?


Our founding fathers specifically excluded term limits. Their experience under the Articles of Confederation (the document that preceded the Constitution) showed them good people are not interested in temp jobs for lousy pay in a distant city. Those elected to office walked away from their positions — or never took them up in the first place. There was no future in it.

When the Constitution was drawn, its authors wanted to tempt the best and the brightest to government service. They wanted candidates who would make it a career. They weren’t interested in amateurs and parvenus. The business of governing a nation has a learning curve. It takes years to get the hang of how things work, how a law gets written. How to reach across the aisle and get the opposition to participate.

The Articles of Confederation contained exactly the ideas people are promulgating today. They failed. Miserably. Do we need to learn the same lesson again?

The absence of term limits in the Constitution is not an oversight. The writers of the Constitution thought long and hard about this problem.

A little more history


Under the Articles of Confederation, our country fell apart. Elected representatives came to the capital (New York), hung around awhile, then went home. Why stay? The job had no future and their salaries didn’t pay enough to cover their costs, much less support families.

Term limits were soundly rejected at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. They were right. The Constitution aims to get professionals into government.

Term limits remove any hope of building a career in government. It becomes a hard temp job with no future.

Myth Busting 101: Congress isn’t overpaid


Maybe they are paid more than you and me, but compared to what they could be earning elsewhere, they are paid poorly. What you cry? How can that be?

Most members of congress are lawyers. The 2011-2012 salary for rank-and-file members of the House and Senate was $174,000 per year. A third year associate at a good law firm will do that well and after six to twelve years (1 – 2 senate terms), a competent attorney in a good market makes much more.

Senators and representatives have to maintain two residences, one in their native state, the other in DC. If you think $174,000 will support two houses and send the kids to college, you are living in a fantasy world. Which is why many members of congress have other income streams.

Curiously, our Founding Fathers expected congressmen, especially senators, to be men of means. They felt only wealthy people would be able to afford government service. And they would be less susceptible to bribery. On the whole, they were right. What they didn’t foresee was how many kinds of corruption would be available. Bribery is the least of our problems.

Skill and experience count


Writing a law that can stand up to scrutiny by the courts and other members of congress takes years. You don’t waltz in from Anywhere, USA and start writing laws. Moreover, great legislators are rare in any generation. A sane electorate doesn’t throw them away.

We are not suffering from an entrenched group of old-time pols stopping the legislative process. We are suffering a dearth of old guard, the folks who understand how to work with the opposition to make the process work. It’s the newly elected morons who are stopping progress. Sadly, our experienced old-timers got old and retired. Or died. They have been replaced by imbeciles.

Above and beyond the skill it take to write legislation, it takes even longer to gain seniority and peer respect. Frank Capra notwithstanding, Mr. Smith doesn’t go to Washington and accomplish miracles. Newly elected congresspeople hope to build a career in politics. With luck, one or two of them will become a great legislator, a Tip O’Neill, Lyndon Baines Johnson, Bob DoleTed Kennedy or another of the giants. Anyone you name connected to important legislation was a multi (many) term representative or senator.

Term limits eliminate all chance of having great legislators


Term limits guarantee a bunch of amateurs — or worse — fumbling their way around congress. As soon as they figure out where the toilets are and get reasonably good at their jobs, they’ll be gone. Does that make sense? Really?

Garry and Tip O’Neill

If you think your congressman or senator is doing a crappy job, replace him or her with someone you believe will do better.

If you don’t elect them, they won’t be in congress


We have term limits. These are called elections. Throw the bums out. Vote for the other guy. Term limits were an awful idea in 1788 and they haven’t improved with time. You only have to watch the news once or twice to see how our wonderful, inexperienced government is doing. If that doesn’t argue against the treasured (but stupid) belief that what Washington DC needs are outsiders, I don’t know what will convince you. Assuming we survive 45s reign, we will desperately need intelligent, knowledgeable people to set America back on course.

We don’t need term limits. We need better candidates, better representatives. We need men and women willing to learn the craft, who have ideas and can work with each other and other nations to get America’s business done. Our government does not rest on the Presidency. It rests on 435 congressmen and 100 senators.

The President isn’t supposed to run the country


Congress writes legislation and votes it into law. Ultimately, it’s you, me, our friends and neighbors who choose the people to make laws, pass budgets, approve cabinet members and Supreme Court justices.

Whatever is wrong with Congress, it’s OUR fault


The 535 members of congress are chosen by us and if you don’t like one, don’t vote for him or her. If someone gets re-elected over and over, you have to figure that a lot of people vote for that candidate. You may not like him, but other people do. That’s what elections are about. It doesn’t necessarily work out the way you want, but changing the rules won’t solve the problems. Make the job more — not less — attractive so better people will want to go into government. Otherwise, you’re creating a job no one will want.

It’s close to that already. Mention going into politics to an ambitious young person. Watch him or her recoil in horror.

Ultimately, it’s all about America. Partisanship, special interests, regional issues, party politics and personal agendas need to take a back seat to the good of the nation … and we need to agree what that means, at least in broad strokes. Term limits won’t fix the problem, because that’s not what’s broken.

We have mid-term elections in 2018. You want term limits? Vote the morons out of office.


Vote for people who believe the good of the country is more important than their personal agenda. Vote for intelligent people who understand about compromise, who have an understanding of law, justice, and believe in the constitution. That will produce change in a hurry.

40 thoughts on “WHY TERM LIMITS ARE A TERRIBLE IDEA

  1. YES ! We don’t want to lose the experience of the incumbents just because they’ve met a limited number of terms — if they’re doing their job, and doing it well, they should be re-elected. The experience and the continuity add to the strength of Congress.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I agree. Our elected officials need to understand the needs of their constituents. ALL their constituents! That was, perhaps, the major flaw of the Democrats. You don’t get to know your people with term limits. You don’t gain experience with term limits. You don’t get legends like “Tip” O’Neill with term limits.

      As mentioned, if they are listening and doing their jobs well, good Pols should be re-elected. Hopefully, pac money won’t be the major role player.

      Everyone should be focused on the mid term elections. They aren’t that far away. We can send a message to 45 and his gang.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Marilyn, we don’t have term limits in our country. Consequently we have people who stay in office until they are literally hated and they practically destroy their own political party. My argument is that nobody is that good and and over time most succumb to the power they wield. What we have in our country is a bunch of ruling elites who have no idea what is going on in their country and they, at some point, don’t care. They become seduced by the intoxicating lure of hob-nobbing with the super rich and famous in their global aspirations instead of dealing with issues at home. I think all politicians should be paid no more than 10 times what the average minimum wage is and they should be forced to deal with problems that are looming in their own country. I would rather have someone who knows how many people rely on Food Banks to get by and how many people are forced to live in shelters or the streets than what the GDP is doing and they should make the appropriate policies to correct these issues.
    Leslie

    Like

    • We used to have The Old Ones. They died. Now we have the asshole young ones. They suck.

      In the end, there are elections. People have to get it together and USE the elections. There really isn’t any choice. If you have crappy legislators, you need to get them out of there. There just isn’t any other choice.

      We have — obviously — a horrendous government, but people are still griping about “term limits.” As if that would make a real difference. We do NOT have term limits, except in some states and that is their choice. It doesn’t make ANY difference. Terrible government is terrible government. You gotta vote. That’s the beginning and the end of it. Vote.

      Liked by 2 people

      • You know, when we have an election, it can be so exciting. At some point we are so fed up with the A-holes (young or old) we, collectively, toss them out. It is almost like a general cleansing . Sometimes we don’t care who takes their place as long as they are gone.

        Liked by 2 people

        • WONDERFUL article.
          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
          swo8 — At the risk of sounding like Dr. Phil, “How’s that workin’ for us?”

          We don’t need “different,” we need BETTER. It’s nuts to rally ’round the cry to “drain the swamps” until we hear the plans for what they’re gonna’ build on the resulting land, right? Prisons? No thanks. Exclusive condos for the rich. No way!

          It’s a lot easier to get rid of a mistake made at the alter than at the polls, but still, anyone who takes even a bit of time to think about it first doesn’t grab somebody just because they’re fed up with the last one and his or her relatives, chompin’ at the bit to walk down the aisle with *anybody* else.

          And those of us who have even a bit of common sense left don’t believe everything the new one says just because s/he says it a lot, even if it’s retweeted by gazillions and hung from billboards. If past actions don’t match present words, if we’re smart, we don’t get hitched. If they’re hatin’ on others before we do, bet he farm we’ll be next once we are. ::sigh::
          ~~~~~~~~~~
          Marilyn — never doubt that you can change minds with your words. Although I already agreed with much of what you said above already (especially about the need to VOTE, darn-it!), I tended to lean toward modified term limits in certain arenas.

          I jumped over from a reblog, thinking I might change your mind and instead you changed mine. TOTALLY.
          xx,
          mgh
          (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
          ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
          “It takes a village to transform a world!”

          Liked by 2 people

          • Wow! What a GREAT COMMENT! Thank you. My husband spent 40 years in news. He hung out with pols, especially with Tip O’Niell. I actually understand why people would think that shortened term limits would be a good idea … if we hadn’t already DONE it during the pre-Constitution period. I don’t mind it for presidents, though. They’ve served enough. By the time they’re done with 8 years, they NEED to do something else. The reason Washington didn’t stay another four years was he totally hated being president. He felt that four more years would be cruel and unusual punishment and I believe he had a point.

            I really appreciate your writing, by the way. Whole sentences and EVERYTHING!

            Liked by 2 people

            • lol – and I yours. My Dad served as Congressional Liaison before he retired, and my maternal grandmother had some connection with Tip back in her day, though it was never clarified exactly what that was.

              Watching each of the Presidents age like Dorian’s portrait, I can’t imagine anyone sane being up for a third term.

              But then . . .
              xx,
              mgh

              Liked by 2 people

              • We really MISS Tip. And the other old ones who used to reach across the aisles and get stuff done. No one does that anymore. I’m really hoping that this is NOT the last president I get to see in this life. I suppose that gives me yet one more reason to live a little longer 😀

                Liked by 1 person

                • Sorry for your loss. I never knew Tip – tho’ my Dad did.

                  Sadly, I am not so worried about checking out personally as I am about none of us making it to see the next president. If I’m here, I hope you are as well. I’m sure I’ll want to read your thoughts about it all.

                  If we can’t find a way to back off the enmity between our political party “leaders” and our citizenry, both, I’m truly concerned. It just might take a roll of duct tape in a couple of instances. however. 🙂
                  xx,
                  mgh

                  Liked by 1 person

              • Hi, Madelyn! As Marilyn mentioned, I was a reporter (TV and radio) for 40 plus years. I had the good fortune of meeting all the Presidents from JFK to Bush #2. I worked in an era when reporters had access (and sometimes friendship) to elected officials. If your work was accurate and honest, usually you got along with politicians regardless of where they stood. Tip O’Neill was the classic old school Pol who worked both sides of the aisle and cut through gridlock. Tip’s achievements were based on honesty and experience. He never ignored local issues even when battling the big boys in Washington, D.C.
                And, he was a terrific raconteur at our local pub. Some really great “background” stories shared over a few “pops”.

                Liked by 1 person

                • Hello Garry! I read your Page, so I am aware of your extensive career. I can only imagine the many background hours that resulted in each of your awards. Congratulations and thank you.

                  Access – yes, that is, shamefully, certainly quite the issue in today’s White House, isn’t it? Another considerable problem, I believe, is metrics-driven “soundbite reportage” that attempts to *appear* balanced by quoting two sides of an issue as if both had equal merit. I recognize it in my areas of expertise, so I cannot imagine it is not a similar problem in political reportage as well.

                  The explanation I hear most often to justify the quick hit news is that there is no market for long-form in today’s twittering world, but I doubt that’s true. Look at the blogs – and the number of hits on more comprehensive broadcasts posted to YouTube.

                  The idiots are, I’m confident, over-represented in unvetted comments – but what I see otherwise are people who are trying to make sense of an unbelievable situation who get “hooked” by rancor and fear-bating. That is to be expected when soundbites dominate. They are polarizing in and of themselves.

                  I have very little “up-close” experience with news reporters, and most of that was when I was fresh-faced and leggy, barely taken seriously as much beyond arm candy. So I have no inside look. From here, it seems most like a return to what used to be called ‘yellow journalism.’ I’d love your perspective on the challenges facing today’s reporters – perhaps in an upcoming article?
                  xx,
                  mgh

                  Liked by 1 person

  3. The most important point you’ve made here (IMO) is that WE elect the people who are in our government. I think the burden lies on the voter and the voters are — obviously — shit, rather than what they should be and that is professional citizens with an understanding of how government works and the willingness to shoulder the responsibility placed upon them (us) by the Constitution. People vote depending on how they “feel” and there is nothing squishier than “feelings” and, when those squishy feelings are combined with ignorance, well the rewards are manifesting themselves right now. I’m disgusted (obviously).

    Liked by 1 person

    • What makes this whole thing a bit weird for me is that there is a continuing attempt to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. Once upon a time, like when I was a kid, there were a lot of very old and even older guys in the Senate and a few in the House. But they’re GONE. They’ve been gone a long time now and the few who remain are trying to get Congress to start acting like a congress.

      I should just give up with this whole idea that citizens will read a bit of history and use brains to pick candidates. Whatever is going on in this world, it doesn’t have ANYTHING to do with me.

      Liked by 2 people

      • No, it’s not going to have anything to do with us, and every election involves new people and older people. Any voter can choose to “limit” the term of the incumbent. Some of the old-timers are shits and some of the new guys are men of conscience. There’s no way to generalize. I looked up the stats and the average time those people spend in congress is 13 years — that’s how long (give or take 2 years) I worked in both schools in which I could be said to have had a “career” in those schools. My total teaching career was along the same lines as the “old-timers” in congress = 36 years.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I thought, when I was younger and I looked at the demographics, that we were the most enormous bunch of humans to ever hit this planet, so whatever WE were doing, everyone would be doing it. Ironically, that’s true, but not the way I thought it would be. I though we would be old, but we’d be very COOl and old. Not old and cranky and nasty. I forgot about all those old white guys. Okay, so I’m a younger white person too, but I think I’ve worked hard for my cool, right? You have too, right? Shouldn’t the world be old and cool and full of people yearning to create art?

          Liked by 2 people

          • Honestly, I don’t know what the world should be. I never worked hard for my cool; it just showed up sometime in my 40s (but I think it was always there). I’m with Aldous Huxley; a world made up only of smart, creative people wouldn’t function very well.

            This is the most doubt-filled moment of my life, actually. The difference between it and the OTHER two doubt-filled moments is that I find this one kind of funny because the ONLY place ahead of me when the doubts are cleared is the grave. The irony of that is endlessly entertaining.

            Liked by 1 person

    • It’s one of those bizarre things where people want this solution to solve the problem, even though this isn’t the problem. We need better legislators, better candidates. Given the state of the state, this is a good time to take a long look at the system and decide what needs to be done!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think part of the problem is people vote when they don’t understand the issues or they rely on late night comedians to tell them what the issues are. Rolling the dice at the election booths can do more harm than good.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That, sadly, has always been part of the problem. I think that is how we got where we are. Too many people understanding very little of the actual realities of the political world … who think that voting for “anybody” is the same as voting for someone who “gets it.” I’m not sure it was ever completely different.

      Liked by 2 people

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