Pros – Arguments For Term Limits in the U.S. Congress
- Politicians in power are difficult to remove because of redistricting, DNC/RNC fund allocations, voting infrastructure, control over registration rules, and other unethical techniques.
- The current U.S. Congress is a horrendous failure with single-digit national approval ratings.
- Incumbents have media relationships and access to government resources that make it difficult for new candidates to win elections.
- Government workers are more loyal to politicians that got them their jobs or have control over their budgets; thus, they often sabotage new candidates running against them.
- Politicians focus on re-election rather than what’s best for the American people since they can stay in power indefinitely.
- New electees would bring new ideas and solutions.
- Lobbyists and rich campaign contributors usually direct their efforts at politicians already in power, putting new candidates at an another financial disadvantage.
- Senators and Congresspersons are less likely to be focused on special interests, pork spending, and repaying campaign contributors if they cannot stay in office indefinitely.
- Without term limits, a system of seniority has taken over the House and Senate, meaning lifetime politicians dominate committees and power structures; thus, newly elected officials have limited ability to make changes or influence policy.
- Term-limited politicians in their final years in office are more likely to ignore biased polls and media criticism to do what’s best of the country, trying to add tangible accomplishments to their legacy.
- Term limits are more likely to lead to a “citizen Congress”, the way the founders intended, rather than one filled with lawyers and career politicians.
- Career politicians are less likely to go against party leaders, even if their conscience tells them otherwise, as they may lose all party support for future elections and bills.
- An exploding national debt, insolvent entitlement spending, and other critical issues will never be addressed without term limits, as career politicians don’t want to risk their power on such controversial issues.
- There is less chance of corruption since it doesn’t pay to bribe a politician who won’t be in power very long, and new electees are less likely to have the knowledge on how to exploit the system.
- Members of Congress work together to keep each other in power and prevent outsiders from being elected who may disrupt the status quo and “drain the swamp”.
- Politicians in power for too long become jaded and cynical with little energy to force much-needed changes, while new electees come in motivated and enthusiastic.
Cons – Arguments Against Term Limits in the U.S. Congress
- The rare good, ethical, productive leaders who deserve to stay in office will be kicked out by term limits.
- There’s a learning curve in Congress, so new electees don’t necessarily have the knowledge and experience to get things done.
- Politicians leaving office take with them their experience and contacts, which are required to get things accomplished.
- It’s difficult to compromise and cut deals when you don’t know your fellow senators and congressmen. It takes time to develop relationships when you’re dealing with the 535 people making laws and setting budgets.
- Politicians in their last term are more likely to ignore the will of their constituents since they don’t have to worry about re-election.
- Pass a Constitutional Amendment to limit U.S. Senators to two terms (12 years) and Congressional Representatives to five terms (10 years).
- Since there’s no way long-term incumbents will vote themselves immediately out of office, restart the term clock from zero. In other words, Senators currently in power would get a max of two more terms; Representatives in power would get five more terms.
Written by: Joe Messerli
Last Modified: 5/6/2019