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Term Limits: An Attempt To Limit You

with 4 comments

This is part 1 of a series of discussions designed to point out the fallacies behind some modern Amendment ideas. As the drive towards a Constitutional Convention heats up, it is a good idea to examine the many Amendment proposals that are being discussed. Term Limits is a perpetual favorite among the conservative-minded electorate. It is often connected with a convention call because it is believed that the Congress would never approve an Amendment that will place limits upon itself.

Term Limits Limit You
There can be no argument. The fact is, a term limit on elected officials would remove power from the hands of the people. Simply stated, it would limit your options at the polls.

Term Limits: A Deficiency in The Articles of Confederation
Gouverneur Morris pointed to term limits as a defect in the Articles of Confederation when he said that imposing ineligibility “tended to destroy the great motive to good behavior, the hope of being rewarded by a reappointment.”

Roger ShermanRoger Sherman on the Rewards of Reappointment
“Frequent elections are necessary to preserve the good behavior of rulers. They also tend to give permanency to Government, by preserving that good behavior, because it ensures their re-election.” — James Madison’s record of the Convention of 1787

Alexander Hamilton on Term Limits
The Federalist, No.72: “Nothing appears more plausible at first sight, nor more ill-founded upon close inspection….”

 Term Limits and the Presidency
Ask yourself this question: Has a term limit on the president of the United States produced better presidents? Afterall, this is a perfectly good example of term limits in action. It is the only example we have presently to study. It is interesting to note that the Congress has not declared war since this Limit was put in place. That’s not to say that we haven’t been at war, however. Quite the contrary, we have fought many times since.

Eligibility vs. “Lame Duck”
In a system of a fixed number of terms, a certain percentage of the Congressmen are lame ducks during their final congressional term, and the people lose their leverage to keep their Representatives on good behavior.  Could you imagine a Congress with term limits set a three terms? We could have 1/3 of our House and Senate in “Lame  Duck” perpetually. What  impact could that have? Consider all the lobbyists providing retirement money for these out-going Congressmen. This hardly sounds like a recipe for representative government.

An elected official who faces term limits will have absolutely no inducement during his final term to listen to his constituents. He will be inclined to seek arrangements while in office that will benefit him when he is forced to leave. Is this the route to good government? Term limits will also send home good, capable, and honorable men and women who have performed admirably and who we desperately need to stay in office.

The lack of Term Limits in our Constitution is not a deficiency. It was a debated decision that considered the goal versus the results attained via the Articles of Confederation. It was identified as one of the deficiencies requiring a remedy. Short terms of office and frequent elections was determined to be the most prudent and effective means of attaining the desire goal of good government. The term limit debate seeks to treat a symptom rather than cure the disease.

UsTermLimits.org has a suicidal facebook campaign promoting a two term limit on the Senate. I did a quick analysis to see what that might accomplish:

Lame Duck Session Analysis

A whopping 75% of the Senate in Lame Duck Sessions by years 11 & 12

As you can see, assuming a 75% re-election rate (and that is conservative), you could be looking at 75 of 100 senators or more in Lame Duck at the same time.

Resources: (Pdf Articles)

Written by federalexpression

January 28, 2011 at 1:25 pm

4 Responses

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  1. I understand your position on term limits and I agree with many of the points made against limiting time in public office. They sound good in theory, but fail the test of time. The strongest argument against term limits seems to be “term limits tend to destroy the motive of good behavior.” We currently have career politicians whose only interest is to stay in office, and they are caught up in the system the buys their votes and silences any opposition. We, the people, are told (actually sold) who to vote for through slick promotion and demonetizing of any opposition. Many politicians die of old age while in office and they become mere figure heads with their staff actually doing the business— Ted Kennedy comes to mind. Now we have Senator Bill Nelson following this path of riding the wave of moneyed supporters. If Nelson is reelected in 2012 he will reach the age of 76 years before his term is up and, if still in good heath, will be reelected for another 6 years. It’s a good gig and obviously not a tough a job.

    My main point for term limits is to shake up the current aristocracy. It’s time we began to think outside-the-box. It will take drastic measures to oust the power brokers currently running our country.

    Red Dog

    January 29, 2011 at 8:27 am

    • Thanks for your comment Red Dog. We clearly have the same objectives. I actually think the strongest argument against term limits is the vast numbers of simultaneous lame duck sessions. In any event, a law to make us toss out senior members doesn’t guarantee a good replacement. I think we can agree on that.


      January 29, 2011 at 10:24 am

      • I’ll concede that point, but if we made the senate term three 6 yr terms and the house four 4yr terms we would get past that. Lame duck sessions aren’t the end of the world given our current situation. Thanks, Red Dog…out

        The Conservative Defender

        January 30, 2011 at 8:33 am

  2. […] is vital to saving our country.  His comments are in Italics below, and here is a link to his post “Opposing Term Limits”. Please read my rebuttal written below his […]

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