Letters of Liberty
              Term Limit Amendment

 

At the end of August 2010 I received an online questionnaire.  There were only four questions asking my position on the recent health care bill, financial reform bill, a balanced budget and term limit amendments.  I replied to the first two questions but did not answer the last two hoping I would get an email back asking for my reply to the two mentioned amendments.  Fortunately I received an email two day later asking for my answer regarding the two amendments.  Having an email address I forwarded my letter regarding the balanced budget amendment, but also I asked them to please explain how the term limit authority would be allocated on each branch and for how many terms they would serve.

The next day I received a reply on both issues thanking me for the balanced budget amendment position.   They proceeded to say term limits for the Representatives in the House three terms and the Senate one term.  I went back to do some research on this matter and then came up with a reply. 

First I mentioned the danger of adjusting the people’s Constitution and began to illustrate the long term problems with a term limit amendment.  While I understand the frustration of some people that our elected officials have been in Washington for decades and some want new faces in hope of restoring our government to its original intent.  A term limit amendment will eliminate these long term elected officials; the people will be ultimately responsible for selecting suitable candidates and removing them if they do not perform.

Let’s look at the long term potential problems with term limits.  If a term limit amendment was passed by 2/3rds of the House and 3/4rds of the Senate, it would be valid.  How could it adversely affect our republic?  Say this term limit amendment was agreed to in 2011.  In the Senate the 2010 senators, who have approximately 33 senators, would be out in 2016.  The same fate would also affect the 2006 and 2008 senators as they would not be eligible to serve after their six year term expired.  100% of senators in 2011 and going forward for all time, “term limit” senators would occupy the U.S. Senate.  Could these individuals possibly do to harm the union?  They could pass legislation with enough votes to refute a Presidential veto.  However they could do far more damage?  Could they not amend your Constitution?  Would it not be possible to change the term of a senator from 6 years to 24 years?  And, what if they amended your Constitution to adjust the term of a Representative of the House from 2 years to 8 years?

They could fundamentally change our government system from a republic to a democratic system, or even worse.  States right could be removed or changed until states have no authority.  The 2nd amendment could be removed, free speech regulated by the new government, etc.  People could lose their liberties and become servants to their new national government and have no voice in how their new government will operate. 

I understand the frustration of millions of citizens who want to remove many federal elected officials.   Yet the question you should first ask is why didn’t the Founding Fathers include term limits in the original Constitution?  Didn’t they first study history and see the damage elected officials could inflict on a government system and its constituents if serving in office too long?  Where they not aware of the increase possibility of corruption with long term service of politicians?  They studied governments over thousands of years and determined that the people should select their elected officials often to control the destiny of our republic.

James Madison, in describing our election process, said if elect officials were not worthy to “throw the rascals out”.  Voting is not only a privilege but a responsibility that must be exercised often and take seriously.  It requires each of us to demand that our candidates’ debate, answer tough questions honestly, and we finally make a choice.  They also believed we would constantly replace bad politicians with better ones.  Perhaps we have failed in our responsibilities to control our elected officials because we have relied on our parties to pick candidates for us. 

Rather than term limits, we should restore our abilities to choose the right candidate and remove them if they fail us.