Counterpoint: Congress needs term limits

While there are many ways to account for public dissatisfaction with Congress, the fact remains that members of the legislative branch need term limits.

Such a change isn’t as unconstitutional as you might think.

According to the Heritage Foundation, The Articles of Confederation, America’s first attempt at governance, contained term limits. The concept is by no means a radical idea, even to our Constitutional framers.

I am a passionate advocate of a strict interpretation of the Constitution; however, when critics say term limits “violate” the qualifications clause of the Constitution, it is only because the Constitution doesn’t specifically address the temporal nature of Congressional offices. It addresses only experience qualifications a candidate must possess, but never addresses the amount of time a Congressman can serve.

To elaborate, the Constitution originally didn’t address a specific presidential term limit. The 22nd amendment, which restricted presidents to serving only two terms in office was nevertheless passed by Congress, thereby amending the document and making it constitutionally illegal for an incumbent president to seek a third term.

However unfeasible it may be for Congress to actually pass a law that would restrict its own political power, this is exactly what must be done with regards to term limits. It can happen — if citizens make the issue a priority.

It is not unconstitutional for such a change to happen; granted, the change happens like the 22nd amendment.

There are many reasons why we need this change now in our country.

It can decrease the overall power of each elected official, while shifting the political pressure of each representative away from establishing relationships with fiscally generous special interests and lobbyists. It can begin to create successful legislature that actually benefits citizens, addressing society’s real issues.

This would serve to eliminate the “career politician” within Washington, and it would also make federal representatives closer to the needs of the people of each state.

Term limits would encourage meritocracy, as opposed to political seniority.

They would increase political competition, promoting healthy debate and philosophical engagement.

They would, in principle, require politicians to vote on precept rather than playing “politics.”

According to the Rasmussen Reports, 71 percent of America favors some kind of term limit for members of Congress. Term limits are not partisan.

Here’s the bottom line:

They are not an unheard of principle, even to the founding fathers.

They are not unconstitutional, if implemented correctly like the 22nd amendment.

They will fix many political problems within our federal government.

Why would any citizen oppose such a crucial, political measure?

 

Reach the columnist at spmccaul@asu.edu or follow him at @sean_mccauley.

 

Read Savannah Thomas’s point here. 

 

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