To Limit Terms, Or Not Limit Terms…That’s The Question

Congressional approval ratings are in the single digits.  Probably the only people that like anyone in Washington with the term “Congressman/Congresswoman” or “Senator” in front of their name is their family and/or the family dog.  Even then, they might be in the dog house with them too.

Term limits have been bantered back and forth by challengers against incumbents as well as candidates for open seats in Congress, the Georgia General Assembly, county commissions, and city councils.  Those folks who tend to advocate term limits, if they are elected, seem to conveniently forget or ignore their campaign trail talking points.  Most probably get comfortable in the seat of power and influence.

Representative Donna Sheldon is seeking to be the next representative of the 10th Congressional District of Georgia in Washington.  One of her planks is to term-limit members of Congress:

Yesterday, I announced the launch of my district wide term limits tour.

Washington. D.C. is plagued by an acute case of “insideritous” and many of the problems coming out of Washington today are caused by a culture of incumbency protection and career politician mindset. It’s up to us to challenge the status quo!

When we have members of Congress who have been in office since a decade or more before we put a man on the moon, we are looking at a group that is out of touch with modern America.

If Congress was looking out for citizens rather than themselves, they would make better laws and policies, don’t you agree? If you can’t make a difference in 12 years, you shouldn’t be there in the first place.

If we enact term limits, we’ll know that members of Congress are working on laws that they’ll soon live under once their term is up. You can bet that will lead to some serious changes in business-as-usual in Washington!

Check out my interview zpolitics to learn more and help spread the word by forwarding this email to your family and friends.

I’m running for Congress to build a better future for our District — not to uphold the status quo.

Let’s get to work.

Regards,

Donna

I agree. I don’t like career politicians, but personally, I believe that limiting the number of terms someone can serve in the House or Senate is just a band-aid. There are term lengths for a reason: for the electorate to reevaluate the job that an elected official is doing. It’s the responsibility of the electorate to remove that elected official in the next election if they believe they are not representing the values of that area. Maybe rather than term limits, should we investigate having shorter term lengths? Heck, we seem to live in a day and time of perpetual campaigning for various offices.

Would amending the Constitution to shorten the terms of members of the US House of Representatives to one year and Senators down to three years help, or should they even be shorter? What say you? Discuss in the comments.

21 comments

  1. Noway says:

    Help me with my memory. Haven’t term limits already been deemed unconstitutional by the Supremes or was that a balanced budget amendment?

      • Noway says:

        Yep! Thanks Lea. So anybody running on term limits is just trying to hornswaggle the voting public. A law term liniting anybody ain’t gonna pass.

    • Jason says:

      SCOTUS couldn’t deem the BBA unconstitutional. It would be an amendment to the Constitution. They struck down the line-item veto in 1998.

    • David C says:

      Basically, in the early 90s some states tried to pass Federal term limits on a local level, and I’m pretty sure that was ruled unconstitutional (for good reason). I suppose the Congress could, itself, pass term limits without needing a constitutional amendment, but I’m not sure on that. There’s never been a balanced budget amendment to rule on though. You might be thinking of the line item veto, ruled unconstitutional in 1998 in Clinton v. City of New York by a 6 to 3 margin with an interesting split (Stevens, Rhenquist, Kennedy, Souter, Thomas and Ginsburg v. Breyer, Scalia, and O’Connor).

  2. Jason says:

    Most term-limit pledges that I’ve seen are for anywhere between three or four terms (six to eight years) for House candidates (Coburn, DeMint, Sanford, and Flake come to mind). Two (or 12 years) for Senate candidates (Coburn, DeMint).

    It’s kinda funny that she’s talking about term limits since she served in the legislature since 2003. Which is probably why the “12 years” example was chosen for the email blast. Had she completed her sixth and most recent term, she would’ve been in office for — drum roll, please — 12 years.

    Anyway, I used to be on the term-limit bandwagon, but not so much anymore. It appeals to the lowest common denominator. Don’t like your representatives? Fine. Work to beat them in their next election.

    • David C says:

      Exactly. And institutional memory is not a bad thing. Give term limits and you end up with two things:

      1) Every single legislator is trying to scramble for their next job from the moment they’re elected, which means demagogurey and the revolving door run rampant.

      and

      2) The only people who know how anything actually gets done are lobbyists.

  3. CJBear71 says:

    I think the term limit discussion is a side effect of the terrible job both blue & red states do at gerrymandering. We’ve created not only districts that are strongly protective of a political party, but of that incumbent as well. I think in over 90% of the House districts, you need only to win the primary and you’re in. While term limits might create some opportunities for competitive districts occassionally, all a term limits might end up doing is creating a farm system for the lobbying industry.

  4. Jon Richards says:

    One reason incumbents keep getting re-elected is that they stockpile huge campaign warchests over the years. Should they get a challenger, they will typically have more money to spend on advertising, etc. than the challenger. One solution to that problem is Rob Woodall’s idea to limit the use of campaign contributions to the cycle in which they were received. Galloway wrote this up in an Insider post a while back.

    Enacting this would level the playing field for challengers to long-time officeholders.

    • IndyInjun says:

      Jon, I have a suggestion:

      Rule 1: Let’s DUMP Gingrey, Deal, Isakson, Chambliss (Thank God he is leaving) and Kingston. These impostors voted for every financial system outrage, the collection of which probably will doom his country.

      Rule 2: If there is a Gold Domer in the race, vote him or her out. If they are in a race for Congress, vote for a political novice.

      These people are enemies of the middle class and it is continuing the path to suicide by supporting any of them.

    • Stefan says:

      Such a rule would gave gone a long way toward leveling the playing field prior to Citizens United and the huge influx of non-candidate money into races, but now it pales in comparison to the strength of outside spending.

    • Kent Kingsley says:

      Jon-

      That’s a good start, the problem with that idea is in a primary challenge. The incumbent has access to numerous PAC’s that will not support a challenger. So the field won’t be leveled, just the hill won’t be quite as steep.

  5. benevolus says:

    I am against term limits.
    If we want more competition, why would we RESTRICT our choices?

    1.Relax ballot access rules
    2. Ranked choice voting

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