The U.S. Continues to Come to Term Limits

Term limits are still a beloved reform by me, even though they've lost some heat since the 1990s. This isn't because term limits really are furthering any larger libertarian goals of limiting government's reach or shrinking its size; I haven't seen much evidence of that.

But I do know term limits definitely further a secondary goal of mine: driving most politicians to apoplectic anger.

Anyway, somewhat below the radar, and 13 years after being shot down on the federal level by the Supreme Court (and with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg steamrollering over two different citizen expressions of a desire to limit his office to two terms), the term limits movement marches on on the state and local level.

Herewith, an excerpt from a Nov. 11 piece by Steve Moore at the Wall St. Journal site's "political diary," alas not publicly available to non-subscribers:

In last week's election, limits on politicians' time in office were enacted or reaffirmed by enormous margins nearly everywhere they were on the ballot in what might have been the loudest referendum for term limitation by voters ever.

Louisiana voters said "yes" to term limits on elected state officials by a 70% to 30% margin, making the Bayou state the 15th with term limits. Meanwhile, South Dakota's lobbying community tried to overturn that state's term limits law, approved by voters 12 years earlier. Bad idea: 76% of voters said "hell, no." That was a bigger margin of victory than when term limits were originally instituted.

In localities ranging from State College, Pennsylvania to Tracy, California and Memphis, Tennessee, voters approved term limits by two-to-one margins. Eight of the ten largest U.S. cities now have term limits. The only setback was a slight one, when San Antonio voters approved an extension of term limits to a maximum of eight years in office from the current four years.

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  • Kaiser||

    Wasn't Bloomberg the one crying when Giuliani was seeking a third term back in 2001?

    As far as term limits go I would like to see some enforced on congress. I am pretty sure our founding fathers never envisioned having the same members of congress for 30 years or more.

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    I am torn on the issue of term limits. After all, if you have someone legitimately doing a good job, why replace them?

  • ||

    Term limits are great. Our Founders did not intend goverment to be a career. it was intended as a voulenteer postion for a set amount of time, then it was time to go back home. This is IMPORTANT! as it lends itself to a progressive just goverment, as no one person and no one power is in a postion long enough to be corrupted. the goverment is meant to be run by the people, it should not be a career, and should not require a law team to get into, Being an elected person should be the highest honor in the land. and your opinions and wants shall mean nothing, for you are not there for you, you are there for your people, it is them you listen to, not what you think or want, oh in a perfect world
    and a quick P.S. Our founders would revolt if they saw how much power the pres had. they were careful and expoused the belief that the pres has no power and should keep his opions to himself lest he unduly influnce congress. he is a figurehead and a const. secratary over the congress to make sure they stay within the document, thats all he is supposed to do!

  • MG||

    Whatever happened to voting? Isn't it our right as citizens to determine who represents us and for how long? In the end, we all get the government we deserve. Term limits sounds like the worst kind of liberal social engineering - people can't make their own decisions so decisions will be made for them.

  • Dormouse||

    After all, if you have someone legitimately doing a good job, why replace them?


    This happens.....when?

  • ||

    After all, if you have someone legitimately doing a good job, why replace them?

    You have someone in your legislature actually doing a good job? Lucky bastard.

    I can brag only that Maryland has an annual 90-day session. I shudder to think what those clusterfucks would do with a year-round session.

  • Untermensch||

    It was never published or reviewed, so I can't cite a reference, but I knew a psychologist who specialized in working with large data sets to study groups. One of his studies was to look at factors that could account for whether legislators proposed more spending or more saving legislation. What he found was that political party had no effect at all, and that the only factor that did have a strong positive correlation was years in office. The longer a politician was in office, the more said politician spent and the less he saved. This held true across the political spectrum and you could even track the drift from saver to spender across the careers of politicians.

    So, whether you want to count it as proof or not, I'd say that there is some proof that term limits would have a positive effect on spending by nipping the careers of politicians in the bud before they became too profligate.

  • ||

    The voters don't like career politicians. These parasites claim to be public servants, sacrificing time and money for our benefit, yet scream like a banshee when they are forced to go back to being wealthy citizens with too much free time on their hands. The lady whore doth protest too much, methinks.

  • ||

    After all, if you have someone legitimately doing a good job, why replace them?

    Considering that even if there is someone doing a good job (which I question), the fact that they are vastly outnumbered by power-seeking scum is by itself an argument for term limits.

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    I didn't say that I thought anyone in the legislature was doing a good job. But that's what the next election is for. I do think that some of my local officials have earned my vote for reelection. I make this decision on a case-by-case basis, and won't rule someone out solely because they have already served X terms.

    So, whether you want to count it as proof or not, I'd say that there is some proof that term limits would have a positive effect on spending by nipping the careers of politicians in the bud before they became too profligate.

    I'm not going to debate whether the effect on the budget would be positive, but I think on this blog we can all agree that not every positive outcome should be promoted by instituting a new law that limits people's choices.

  • ||

    Personally, I think term limits are silly. As far as I'm concerned, we already have them. Not only that, but there are negative consequences to term limits, if you can believe that. For example, in Virginia, Governors can only serve one consecutive term. After the first six months or so, they are essentially lame ducks and can't get anything done.

  • ||

    Whatever happened to voting? Isn't it our right as citizens to determine who represents us and for how long?

    The problem is, politicians have access to other people's money to bribe voters. They could be doing a lousy job of representing their constituents, but if they are bringing home the bacon, voters are unlikely to shoot themselves in the foot like that.

  • ||

    If we eliminated the advantages of being a more senior member (the explicit ones, anyway), there would be no need for term limits. But once you start tying your district's pork-reception priority to its ability to send the same idiot back year after year, you need a limit so that some other district doesn't just keep one idiot forever, thus becoming a mechagodzilla of pork.

    Some states may already do this. I suspect most do not.

  • shecky||

    The fact is that most folks tend to like their own politicians, and hate everyone else's. This is why things like Congress approval ratings are nonsense. Elections are already term limits. Incumbents do tend to have an advantage. Leveling the playing field by limiting choices is a step backward, though.

  • ||

    I think term limits do serve a libertarian purpose: ensuring government by part-time citizen legislators and executives, and inhibiting the growth a ruling class.

    Isn't it our right as citizens to determine who represents us and for how long?

    Sure, as long as they meet the Constitutional requirements. We have age, citizenship, residency, etc. requirements for elected officals, and no one seems to think that those trample on their democratic rights.

    We have term limits for Presidents, after all (and thank god for that). Why not for legislators?

  • ||

    After the first six months or so, they are essentially lame ducks and can't get anything done.

    Bug, or feature?

  • ||

    Whatever happened to voting? Isn't it our right as citizens to determine who represents us and for how long?

    If there were anything like free and fair elections in the country, you'd have a point. But, in most states the system is so rigged against any non-Democrat/Republican candidates with ballot access restrictions (leaving alone incumbency advantages) that the concept of voting as a term limit is meaningless.

    Level the political playing field and then we can talk.

  • Paul||

    After all, if you have someone legitimately doing a good job, why replace them?

    Because the number of people doing a legitimately poor job outnumber them by significant margins.

  • Paul||

    Isn't it our right as citizens to determine who represents us and for how long?

    Yes. For instance, we determined that a president can represent us for two terms lasting eight years, then his ass is sent to the cleaners.

  • Paul||

    Incumbents do tend to have an advantage. Leveling the playing field by limiting choices is a step backward, though.

    I too, used to be worried about this, and was very torn about the concept of term limits. Then came Campaign Finance Reform. We must have term limits now that incumbent advantage has been codified into law.

  • ||

    I agree that yes the voters can vote thier own term limits, but enough of them are stupid enough not to vote out scum, they vote party line and as long as that party is dominate in the area, and that does not change much from year to year, they will be re-elected because the ruling party never runs against itself, perfect example is that Stevens (AK) was reelected AFTER BEING CONVICTED!

  • Mike M.||

    To a modern American politician, "doing a good job" seems to primarily consist of plundering as much money from the treasury as possible to grease the palms of his constituents and backers.

  • ||

    Term limits are great. Our Founders did not intend goverment to be a career.

    Personally, I think that limiting salaries of elected officials would be far more effective in achieving the desired results.

    If everyone in congress had to get by on a flat $50K/year as their public salary from here on out, they'd either limit the duration of the sessions and get real jobs, or they'd get serious about stopping inflation.

    -jcr

  • ||

    After the first six months or so, they are essentially lame ducks and can't get anything done.

    Help us out here: why would this be a bad thing?

    -jcr

  • taz||

    While I voted in favor of term limits in California, they definitely have drawbacks. The lack of experienced legislators seems to increase the quantity of frighteningly idiotic legislation every year. There isn't much CA legislation that I would support anyway, but term limited politicians seem eager to "make their mark," and their inexperience combined with their staff's inexperience can be disastrous.

  • ||

    Experienced, long-tenured legislators have helped get us into this mess of increasingly unrestrained government and spending, so what good has tenure done for us? Very little.

    One thing is obvious. The Constitution failed to provide adequate checks and balances on government power. Granted, part of that failure comes from the government ignoring its Constitutional limits, but I think that would've happened less with more built-in restraints--e.g., term limits for all federal elected officials, more explicit involvement of the states as a check on federal power, the Censor, etc.

    I'm finally reading The Spirit of the Laws, so I may have more to say on this topic in the coming weeks ☺

  • ||

    I agree with, and second, MG's comments above. Term limits are an infringement on my right to vote for the person who best represents me and my views. Plain and simple.

  • ||

    Bonn, Aaron Bonn: I don't agree. You already can't vote for Arnold Schwarzenegger or Miley Cyrus for president. We have restrictions in place that are even more arbitrary than tenure, after all--age, nation of birth, etc. Term limits are expressly a check on the blind stupidity of the mob. They aren't the only anti-democratic idea encapsulated in our Constitution, either. Frankly, the presidency is in many ways less dangerous than Congress, so if term limits are good for the POTUS, I don't see how they aren't even better for Congress.

    Too much power is a bad thing and is ultimately corrupting of all but the most holy of politicians. Lord Acton wasn't wrong, after all, and I'm just amazed that Americans are forgetting their long-held paranoia about people in power.

    Here's a quote from Acton other than the one you usually hear: "The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to govern. Every class is unfit to govern."

  • ||

    Term limits are great. Our Founders did not intend goverment to be a career.

    Personally, I think that limiting salaries of elected officials would be far more effective in achieving the desired results
    _____________________________________________
    or better yet have them make the same as the average salary in the area he reps, that would be an incentive to empower your public, the more money they make, the more you do.

  • FrBunny||

    I'm finally reading The Spirit of the Laws, so I may have more to say on this topic in the coming weeks.

    Am I officially a Pro Lib groupie if I got really excited about this?

  • ||

    Term limits are an infringement on my right to vote for the person who best represents me and my views.

    Ballot access restrictions are a far greater limitation on who you can vote for and unlike term limits in many cases, those exist currently.

  • ||

    Sorry, I didn't mean to make it sound that way. Let me rephrase: I'm reading The Spirit of the Laws--finally. Montesquieu had such a huge effect on the Founders that it seems incumbent upon me to read the danged book. Especially since I went to the trouble of buying it years ago.

    That's better.

  • brandon||

    Personally, I think that limiting salaries of elected officials would be far more effective in achieving the desired results.

    If everyone in congress had to get by on a flat $50K/year as their public salary from here on out, they'd either limit the duration of the sessions and get real jobs, or they'd get serious about stopping inflation.


    Or they'd have more incentive to to abuse their office for personal profit. Most Members of Congress are already rich. Even then they can't resist taking bribes.

  • ||

    Yes to term limits for Congressmen: two years in office followed by two years in jail.

  • ||

    Pro Libertate:

    I fail to see how the presence of other anti-democratic restrictions on voting make this one any less egregious.

    Furthermore, the ones that you cite are not arbitrary. Children can't vote because they are not yet fully responsible members of society. There are - or at least were, at one time - national security reasons why a foregn born person can't become President.

    Term limits, on the other hand, are arbitrary. They assume the same level of corruption in all politicians of a certain tenure regardless of the facts of their tenure. They also assume the same level of stupidity/naivete in all voters, an assumption that I resent quite a bit.

    There have been several politicians who I have wanted to vote for again after they were "termed out." The fact that an assumption, and a decision, was pre-made with regard to my own ability to know, and vote for, my own self interest regarding these politicians is insulting to me, and simply not fair.

  • ||

    Forget about children--why can't I vote for a naturalized citizen for president? Or for a 20-year old for Congress?

    Our current, collective habit of voting in incumbents over and over and over and over again, all while telling pollsters how much we hate Congress, shows why we need term limits. And the most horribly corrupt Congresspersons seem quite often to be the ones who spend a lifetime in office. I think protecting our liberty is far more important than allowing voters more wide-open choices come election day.

    The limited ballot access mentioned above is, in my mind, far more egregious than term limits.

  • twv||

    "Term limits are arbitrary."

    So are TERMS.

    There are arbitrary elements to political representation. Of course there are. All institutions have them.

    Also, the limit to a term assumes nothing about "the same level of corruption." The arguments FOR term limits only note a common problem, increased corruption over time, and see a benefit in the term limit.

    As for voting your self-interest, try reading Bryan Caplan's THE MYTH OF THE RATIONAL VOTER, and get back to us on that.

    Besides, government is there not to express your self-interest, but -- in a general sense -- promote the interests of as many people as possible, so long as they are basically peaceful and cooperative.

    Some institutional arrangements, like many private interests, work against the general interest in peace and cooperation. This is a commonly understood divorce of private and public interests. Your perceived interest in voting for whomever you think represents your interest could very well scuttle my interests as well as yours . . . without your understanding the causation.

    Because of the divorce between perceived self-interest, actual self-interest, and perceived and actual public interest, there evolve and are constructed many levels of rules. These trump fictional rights like "my right to vote for Stalin."

    Basically, Mr Bonn merely repeats and restates the prejudices of the standard objection to term limits, that is, "we already have term limits, they are called elections." B.S. Every voter knows about temptation. We are tempted to vote for our scumbag, because those scumbags over there are going to get more goodies than we are, if we don't vote for our incumbent scumbag.

    This leads to a proliferation of scumbags in representative bodies. Savvy voters know the difference between near-term interest (voting for incumbent scumbags) and long-term interests (not being tempted or having reasons to be tempted to play the scumbag vs scumbag game).

    This is really quite basic argumentation. It is basic to all policy and all government. It is basic to republican theory.

    Is it really the case that you cannot follow it?

  • ||

    I fear that many people, particularly on the left but also some libertarians, value democratic principles over liberty. Or, as seems to happen in much of the political rhetoric, the two are conflated--i.e., More Democracy = More Liberty. Wrong!

  • ||

    I am actually in agreement with you on naturalized citizens running for President and 20 year olds running for Congress. However, as I stated above, the presence of other anti-democratic restrictions on voting doesn't make this one any less egregious.

    The person who tells a pollster that he hates Congress, while continuing to vote for the same Congressman year after, is essentially telling the pollster that he hates everyone else in Congress - but not his guy. This phenomenon is not indicative of a pathology that he somehow needs to be broken of. It isn't indicative of anything other than how disagreeable we are with each other when it comes to politics. Using that guy to justify term limits is essentially saying that everyone else's guy should be thrown out after a certain time because HE doesn't like them.

  • ||

    Term limits would be nice, but I'm more worried about the continuing transformation of the office of Vice President.

  • ||

    Aaron Bonn,

    I guess my point is that I'm okay with some anti-democratic elements in our system that preserve the greater good of maximizing our liberty. The effect of unlimited terms is that government is expanding faster and corruption is more widespread. If limiting our choices somewhat is the price, I think it's hardly a severe curtailment of democracy. After all, there are 300 million people in this country, with somewhere north of 100 million eligible for office. Take away the insane power of lifetime tenure, and we'll have more choices, too.

    And yes, this means that we lose good people like Ron Paul.

  • ||

    Did I understand the link correctly, and the wikipedia page on this decision? It looks like those EVIL CONSERVATIVE BASTARD members of the Supreme Court, along with the ACLU (?!) were in favor of the term limits, while the friendly, pro-freedom liberal justices were against. HELP!

  • ||

    Pro Libertate:

    If you really think that term limits are an effective method of slowing the growth or power of the goverment, or curbing its corruption, all I have to say to you is take a look at what a small government paradise California has become over the past 15 years.

  • ||

    TWV

    The duration of the terms are, perhaps somewhat, arbitrary. The reasons for a specified term are not. Nor do these reasons make any arbitrary assumptions about the holders of the terms.

    I don't need a book to tell me about self interested voting. I have direct experience with it. I cast informed, thoughtful, self interested votes every time I vote. And I am certainly not arrogant enough to assume that I am the only one who is voting this way.

    As for your notion of self interest vs. the greater good, I would suggest you brush up on the Federalist Papers. The basic idea behind representative democracy is that competing self interests create an invisble hand effect that guides government toward whatever "greater good" can be said to exist. Yes, I AM supposed to be voting in my own self interest. And my representative IS supposed to be answering to me. That's how it works.

  • Kolohe||

    I am torn on the issue of term limits. After all, if you have someone legitimately doing a good job, why replace them?

    Serious answer: if they're doing a good job there, they can do a good job elsewhere, so we are spreading the talent around. And if they are doing a mediocre job (which is seldom sufficient to get them fired) then we get the opportunity to try new talent.

    It's not very libertarian, but one 'out of the box' idea I have is to have a draft for a house of the state legislature.

  • FrBunny||

    ProLib: Actually I wasn't snarking. I really meant that I got excited to hear your thoughts on The Spirit of the Laws, and I was wondering if that officially makes me a groupie.

    Long time listener, etc, etc.

  • Syd||

    I rather like the system where you win a term or two, sit the next one out, then come back. For one thing, it gives your spouse the temptation to run for public office. See "Lurleen Wallace".

  • Syd||

    Or check out the career of Ma Ferguson, whose husband got impeached and convicted in 1917. Since he couldn't run, she did and served two non-consecutive terms.

  • ||

    FrBunny,

    Oh, okay, that sounds good. Thanks. Though I can feel myself breaking down from the pressures and temptations of fame. Can a turn in a sanitarium be far behind?

    Aaron Bonn,

    Look, it's just an additional check, not the end-all, be-all.

  • twv||

    About the Federalist Papers -- wrong. We can only vote our interests, and have those interests become something like a public good, if the government is severely limited. Then, defensive votes add up to a limited government defending rights, which are chiefly negative rights, rights to treatment of forebearance. But our government is no longer limited (we live in tragically post-Constitutional times) and so self-interested voting becomes a war of all against all. When I vote my self-interest to gain subsidy A, and you vote your self-interest to get subsidy B, and your neighbor votes to help his distant relatives with subsidy C and D, as well as protectionism helping his own damn self, then wealth is reduced, freedom is reduced, and a general pillaging ("legal plunder," to use Bastiat's term) puts self-interest and fake public interest into a tragedy of the commons.

    Term limits are one simple way of adding a constitutional limit to counteract decades (centuries?) of rent-seeking at the public trough.

    Of course, it may be that everyone reading Reason's Hit and Run will vote well, with a narrow vision of self-interest. But we cannot legislate and write constitutional for us angels. Most people are fools when it comes to voting, and are such because the system encourages folly.

  • MJ||

    "I think term limits are silly. As far as I'm concerned, we already have them."

    Well, sort of, but I think career pols keeling over in the well of the Senate is a little later then what most of us would like to see.

    The career pols get a little too comfortable with the perks pf power and insulated from how the real world works when they've been in one position for too long. Thinking yourself entitled is not an attitude for making good government.

  • ||

    Pro Libertate:

    "Look, it's just an additional check, not the end-all, be-all."

    No, its not just an additional check. Its also a restriction on my freedom to vote for the person that I want to vote for.

    And as a check on the power, size, and corruption level of government, you need only look to California to see how effective it has been.

  • ||

    TWV:

    "Term limits are one simple way of adding a constitutional limit to counteract decades (centuries?) of rent-seeking at the public trough."

    Sort of like enacting government regulation in order to counteract the effects of government regulation?

    See my responses to Pro Libertate above regarding what an effective "constitutional limit" it has turned out to be here in California.

  • ||

    In a way, much of the Constitution is a limit on your democratic rights.

  • h-dawg||

    "Yes to term limits for Congressmen: two years in office followed by two years in jail."

    creech wins the thread

  • h-dawg||

    For those of you deluded souls who oppose term limits because you think you're choosing your congressman, get the scales off your eyes. Your congressman has chosen you. That's why congresscritters have a higher re-election rate than the old politburo deputies.

  • ||

    "...perfect example [of stupidity of voters in being duped by party maneuvers] is that Stevens (AK) was reelected AFTER BEING CONVICTED!"

    And let's not forget that dead guy that Missouri elected to the Senate, thus leaving the living loser -- John Ashcroft -- to become one of our nation's most infamous Attorney Generals. If the cheating bastards in MO had not so stupidly, greedily sought to keep their Senate seat in Democratic hands by hook or by crook -- emphasis on CROOK -- Ashcroft would have been one Senator in a hundred, instead of W's Go-To guy for the quashing of civil liberties.

    I trust the electorate when it votes to expand freedom, but I don't especially trust it in choosing rulers, or when voting to enact tyranny. Checks and balanced need to be biased in the direction of presuming and affirming liberty, not restricting it (or putting in place those who have or would).

  • Hucbald||

    A two-term limit would cure almost every ill in the land, the rest would be cured if everyone with a law degree was barred - heh - from serving in any position of public trust. I'd settle for keeping lawyers out of legislative bodies and off the benches though. Lawyers making law and judging law is an egregious conflict of interest. They ought to be limited by statute to the adversarial part of the process, where their necessary evil actually has a place.

  • ||

    OH GOD BLESS YOU... and please, please, please, oh gawd please


    but I just had this same thought today. TERM LIMITS needs to be the next issue, for the love of a Popsicle stick we need them, desperately

  • ||

    "...perfect example [of stupidity of voters in being duped by party maneuvers] is that Stevens (AK) was reelected AFTER BEING CONVICTED!"

    I take it you forgoet Democrat congressman William Jefferson goes on trial Dec. 6th.

  • ||

    I have gone back and forth on term limits, but this election cycle firmed up my support for such a constitutional amendment; highly unlikely for congress to do so, but its time has come.

    Stupid American stories: Martha, that obvious FORMER Marine overwhelmingly reelected, but hey he brings home the pork even if he is corrupt and dislikes his constituents and the Marines. "Money in the Freezer" Jefferson of LA is reelected. Also reelected was Charlie "I don't pay taxes while chairman of the finance committee" Rangel and Barney "Freddie and Fannie no regulation" Frank. Such stupidity. And no consequences for wasting our money and the financial meltdown; that is except for the Republicans who got all the blame by the compliant media.

  • ||

    On the whole, term limits are a good thing. They stir the pot so those who aspire to the permanent political class have to get off their chairs once in a while.

    But, this conversation is missing an important practical point. The elected official is one thing, the hired help is the one constant in any bureaucracy. If you have ever been involved with non-profits, especially professional organizations that rotate members through as leadership, you notice that the new president comes and goes, but the staff is the constant. So, if there was a way to periodically flush the permanent staff, you would see less of the ossification of government that dampens any reform.

    I would like to also see a reduction in staff size for state and national legislators. I believe P. J. O'Rourke suggested paying the elected official a lot more, say $250,000,and then cut their staff to one or two people. Less staff means less mischief. Less rent-seeking, less legislation, smaller government because there aren't enough hours in the day to raise as much hell as they currently do. Currently, U.S. House staff size averages 14, Senate staff size averages 34. Committee staff sizes average 68 for House, 46 for Senate. This is how these knuckleheads cause so much trouble.

    My pet (Great Dane-sized) peeve has been legislators who vote for bills that they have not read. If you do this in real life, sign contracts you haven't read, you get what you deserve. Why do we have to be the recipients of such foolishness? I would like to compel legislators to read and understand every bill before voting.

    Starve the beast of government through practical attacks on logistics. Pay the legislator an exorbitant amount of money, and ask them to do only a little and not give us our money's worth. We come out ahead big time.

    God help us in the time of The One.

  • Bill Woods||

    I like term limits, but I'll offer one signicant change for consideration:

    Instead of a lifetime limit on terms, make it a limit on *consecutive* terms - two and out. Back to his day job for a couple of years. But then, if the guy wants to run again for elective office, with the advantages of experience but without the advantages of incumbency, fine.

  • ||

    Instead of a lifetime limit on terms, make it a limit on *consecutive* terms

    I'll pass. For most gerrymandered districts (but I repeat myself), this will mean we will have two career politicians rotating in and out of the office, and you know Congress will pass rules letting you accumulate seniority. Full term limits - two for Senators (12 years), maybe four for Reps (8 years).

  • twv||

    Is it possible that California isn't the best example for anything?

  • ||

    h-dawg:

    "For those of you deluded souls who oppose term limits because you think you're choosing your congressman, get the scales off your eyes. Your congressman has chosen you. That's why congresscritters have a higher re-election rate than the old politburo deputies."

    Of course. It couldn't possibly be that I actually wanted to vote for him. It couldn't possibly be that I actually, for the most part (gulp), agree with him. Because that would mean that - heaven forbid it - I don't agree with YOU. And no sane or intelligent person could possibly disagree with you, could they?

  • ||

    As far as San Antonio, one point to consider. Unlike New York, the proposition was written to exclude all current and former Mayors and city councilmen from being able to run again. It only applies to future mayors and the council.

    I voted for it actually, I don't think 8 years is unreasonable and the current four year term is a little short for the occasional good mayor/councilman to get anything done.

  • ||

    After all, if you have someone legitimately doing a good job, why replace them?

    This is one problem we certainly do not suffer from. A politician doing a good job, please point them out to me.

    The problemis every state is fed a line of shit when their politicians are running for re-election about how they tried to do this and that but it was those OTHER states politicians that kept them from getting anything done and they just need another term to push it through.

    So we don't need term limits to get rid of our own politicians but to make sure that other states can not repeatedly keep sending back the Kennedy's and Kerry's etc of the Congress. Collectively as a country the way in which we re-elect congress critters with a 10% approval rating (who gives them that high a rating I have no idea) 90%+ of the time we will merrily send them back then scratch our asses 2 and 6 years later when they are running again to fix the same things they have screwed up themselves over the past 20+ years.

    Insanity- Doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result.

    Yet we send the same worthless chumps back over and over and actually think things will be different, this time.

  • ||

    A recent Rassmussen poll (http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/election_20082/2008_presidential_election/59_would_vote_to_replace_entire_congress) found:

    "Only half (49%) believe that the current Congress is better than individuals selected at random from the phone book. Thirty-three percent (33%) believe a randomly selected group of Americans could do a better job and 19% are not sure."

    With this in mind, and reference to the US jury system. (A 'jury of your peers' can judge your guilt or innocence and in some states decide your life or death.) I propose:

    To select representatives to 'The People's House' via random drawings, from the said same jury pools.

    Q. "How do you keep the crazy and criminals from Congressional service?"
    A. Nothing has worked so far. However, the same screening for felons and mentally incompetent used for jury duty will work for the House of Representatives.

    Current eligibility, pay and benefits would be allowed. One 2-year term only.

    Six months prior to the beginning of the term each new member's pay would begin and they would be required to report to Washington for 'Congress School' (because all us can't remember how laws are made).

    Put this group together tell them to get to work. Let 'natural selection' in the group work. The leaders would rise and the lame/lazy/crazy would be ostracized (or be the "party leaders" to talk to the press). Perhaps something other than earmarks, re-election worries, and odes to 'National Hot Dog Day' might get accomplished. If not, 'gridlock' in Congress means they are not spending our money or reducing our liberty. Not a bad thing either.

    Half of the representatives would be replaced every other year.

    Mandatory harsh prison sentence and large fine for anyone caught tampering with the method of random draws for representation.


    To keep power from the Eunuchs ('Professional Staffer'):

    A new Congressman can bring their own staffer. If a staff member wants to stay working as staff in the House, they must:

    After the term of their current Representative, move to serve on the staff of a different state (by lottery)

    Serve on the staff of the opposite political party each 2 year term

    20 year staff service limit, retirement pay to match current percentage of the military retirement pay for 20 years service.

  • economist||

    I know I'm a little bit late, but I think the best term limit would be to eliminate all compensation for representatives.

  • ||

    Pro Libertate:

    "In a way, much of the Constitution is a limit on your democratic rights."

    This is a fairly flippant response. I thought libertarians were supposed to be opposed to unnecessary restrictions on personal freedom.

  • Alex||

    I think term-limits are a mixed bag. I like the part of getting rid of career politicians. But I don't see a lot of the Thomas Sowell questioning - "And then what?" If the politicians are replaced? Where does the power go? Unelected staff? The bureaucrats? Are their motivations any better than politicians? Also the politicians are all looking at higher office, not retirement. Not necessarily a good thing. Think we have to accept that the law of unintended consequences comes into play here.

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