Term Limits

Bill Shipp writes in this opinion piece about the need for term limits. He, of course, blasts GOP lawmakers while making no mention of Dems who have been in office forever.

Our GOP lawmakers must have had good reason for breaking their term-limit promises. Perhaps they were delighted to discover a seat in Congress may be the securest occupation in America. More than 90 percent of House incumbents are re-elected in each election cycle. Barely a handful of congressional districts are actually contested every two years. In Georgia, only two of 13 districts – Democrat Jim Marshall’s 3rd district and Democrat John Barrow’s 12th – will be in serious play in 2006.

I have always been of the opinion that term limits are a bad idea. The concept sounds good, but the general public has no idea how complex state and federal policymaking gets. These elected officials need to be in the mix for many years before they get a firm grasp on the in’s and out’s of a given policy area. I personally don’t want novices crafting legislation that has such far-reaching effects (not that all veteran lawmakers create good policy, and vice versa).

Share your thoughts . . .


  1. Bull Moose says:

    I totally disagree. The late Congresswoman Tillie Fowler showed that you can achieve much in Congress in a short period of time.

    When she ran for Congress, she pledged to serve only 8 years — 4 terms. She kept her promise and despite being the highest ranking woman in Congress, she retired.

    Many Members of Congress either achieve based on ability or move up through the ranks because everyone else has moved on. Who would you rather have as a leader?

    There are examples of such in addition to the late Mrs. Fowler. Congressman Tom Reynolds, the Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, rose up quickly through ability. He was first elected in 1998. Others include former Congressman J.C. Watts, Congressman John Bohner, and there are many more.

    I personally am in favor of term limits. I say limit Members of the House to 6 terms / 12 years and Members of the Senate to 3 terms / 18 years. That’s long enough for anyone.

    Usually the best and brightest don’t spend 12 years in the House before moving up to higher elected office… It’s those in the middle who just wait for their turn… We don’t need anymore of those types…

    So I say yes to term limits and apply immediately…

  2. Melb says:

    I think those two issues are intertwined, if you cannot show ability to grasp an issue then you are not going to move up the ranks. And 12 or 18 years seems sufficient to become an expertise in a given policy area, if not, then all the more reason for term limits.

  3. Bull Moose says:

    EXACTLY. Congressman Johnny Isakson moved up VERY quickly while a Member of the House and he was only there for 3 terms.

    And wait a minute, don’t we elect Members of Congress to DO SOMETHING in Washington? I didn’t know we just wanted them to wait, learn the ropes, and continue the status quo…

    This ongoing corruption in DC is proof positive to me for the need for term limits.

    6 terms in the House – 3 terms in the Senate

    For goodness sake, that’s long enough for anyone…

  4. rickday says:

    term limits means that lobbying special interests will no longer ‘invest’ in ‘grooming’ long term political hacks.

    corruption will drop to levels that do not rape the public, merely aggravate. I’ll take aggrivation over rape anytime.

    If the military has mandatory retirement, then so should civilian government servents.

    One of my top agenda if elected King of Antartica is to enact term limits.

  5. kingmaker says:

    We already have term limits. They are called ELECTIONS. If you don’t like the job those in office are doing, vote against them. Don’t take away my right to vote for those people in office who I think are doing a good job.

  6. stephaniemill says:

    Well, if like 90% of the freaking congressional districts were not safe districts then, yes, elections would take care of term limits, but they are NOT. You have to be freaking stupid or unlucky to lose any congressional district these days.

  7. Adam says:

    If the argument against term limits is that it takes multiple terms for an official to get up to speed, then I have to believe something is inherently wrong with the legislative process. I know there are arguments that can be made for slowing down the process, but I don’t think obfuscation is the best way to do it. Perhaps a rapid turnover of new congresspeople could figure out a way to make the system simpler for themselves thereby alleviating the problem for future new congresspeople.

  8. The reason you can blast the GOP and not the Dems is that it was the GOP’s idea. Part of the Contract w/ America. Consider Nathan Deal, who pledged to server only 12 years (if I recall) and is now in his 7th term. It was always an empty promise, made by those (the GOP) who weren’t in power, and then they quickly re-evaluated their idea about staying in power once they got there.

    So the GOP made a stupid promise about term limits, one which I think they wisely didn’t keep. So why should we critisize the Dems for breaking a promise that they never made?

  9. Bull Moose says:

    Term limits are a good idea. They are a good idea for the Executive Branch and work just fine and need to be applied to the Legislative Branch as well. For that matter, I think they need to be applied to the Judicial Branch too.

    If we had fair and impartial districts, maybe term limits wouldn’t be necessary, but instead, we have gerrymandered districts where there are no opponents, because the deck is stacked from the start.

    For example, in Georgia, the Republican Members of Congress drew their own districts. Tell me how that is fair to all the citizens? Of the 7 Republican Members, 3 ran on a pledge of term limits — John Linder, Charlie Norwood, and Jack Kingston. All are about to be past the point of their initial pledged terms. All represent districts drawn specifically for the purposes of reelecting them safely (by them). Mac Collins also ran on term limits, but having lost a race for the Senate, he now seeks to return to the House. What is there he can do new that he couldn’t do before? No Democrat has a chance against any of them because of the nature of the districts, not the incumbents.

    In contrast, both of our US Senators were in Congress for less than the aformentioned House Members before being elevated by the voters to the higher chamber. Senator Chambliss was elected to the House in 1994 and Senator Isakson in 1999.

    Chambliss and Isakson are leaders and as such, when the opportunity arose to put their qualifications and experience on the line for the Senate, they did what leaders do and that is to move forward and make it happen. We are a better state for their committment to serve. I feel confident and hope that neither will stay longer than 18 years in the Senate.

    Elected office is not an entitlement. Having Members of Congress draw their own districts is counterintuitive to the ensuring the democratic process works for all citizens and only contributes to the further alienation of the electorate.

    We are all so focused on the elections in Iraq this week, but our own country is in dire need of help on increasing the democratic participation of her citizens in the electoral process.

    Term limits is a good first step and if it was good enough when we as Republicans were out of power, it should be good enough when we are in power.

  10. Bull Moose, while I don’t agree with the idea of term limits, you make good points. And I think we all agree that it is stupid to bash any member of Congress or the legislature for serving too long if that person never made a term-limit promise or proposed them. And most of those people are Democrats but I’m sure the commenters here can find plenty of other reasons to bash Dems for anyway.

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