Term Limits:Not the Solution

I keep hearing about how “Term Limits” are necessary in order for our government to work, and how we should put term limits on the members of congress.  I have mixed and even oppositional views on this, and I wanted to make them clear.

What are term limits supposed to accomplish?  They’re supposed to limit the power individuals have over the long term.  But that’s part of the problem, because the people who are a problem are mostly interchangeable.  Rich men pay good money to put someone in power to be their puppet, and if we put a term limit on people, that becomes just a cost of doing business.  On the other hand, a good man like Bernie Sanders is unique; a term limit would have severely limited his ability to impact our country for the better.
When people talk about term limits, they say things like “Too much power, for too long.”  Do you know who is responsible for the term limit on the Presidential office?  Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Mr. New Deal himself.  He’s the man who led the United States through the great depression and World War II, who put social security in place (in its original form).  Once he was no longer in office, the other politicians quickly put a term limit in place to make sure nobody like FDR was able to stay in office for so long.  I have mixed feelings about the details of some of his policies, but ultimately he was a good President who did good work for the American people.  That’s the kind of thing term limits are intended to prevent – someone like him who starts doing a good job and then stays in office because he has popular support.  When a bought and paid for politician is replaced by another one, there will be no effective change, because the puppet master does not change for them.  The only people a term limit is going to affect are good people trying to do a good job in the most direct way possible.

So that’s why I’m not in favor of congressional term limits.  It is a “solution” that makes the problem worse than it was to begin with.  The real problems with our politicians do not come from their long service times, but from their actions while they serve.  The public needs to do the hard, ugly work of knowing who is representing them and what those people are doing.  The media (especially television) needs to do a better job of reporting clearly what is going on within our government.  With the development of the Internet, that information is much easier to access (at least for now).


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