We have separation of powers among the three branches of government — Executive, Legislative and Judicial. Is it time to go a step further and separate the powers within the legislative branch? By law the President may only serve two consecutive terms. Quite frankly, with few exceptions, by the time year 8 rolls around, many are ready to see some new leadership. On the other side of the spectrum is the supreme justices. Once confirmed by senate, they serve for life. The supreme court is the consummate referee and continuity here is a good thing. After all, if they misbehave, there is a little thing called impeachment.
Law is created in the congress. Certainly, one could argue that every two years the people can vote and change the mix of our lawmakers which is a term limit of some sort. Did our founding fathers ever intend or imagine someone would want to be a career politician? Or did they view it as a duty to the nation not a career path.? Today, the duty has been supplanted by self-serving career aspirations by individuals on both sides of the aisle. Duty does not mean longevity!
The concern, and main point, is that the very people we elect among us to represent us, lose touch with their constituents once they are removed for extended periods of time. What is an extended period of time? Let’s establish that as 4 years as a proper term limit. Take a personal journey back 4 years. Where were you? What were your concerns? What were you celebrating? It is a long time. Certainly long enough to get an education in politics and return back to your community and become a more engaged leader.
It is the people’s seat, not some ego-centric individual’s passion to posses while becoming tainted with power. If there are no aspirations or expectations to become a career politician, how could anyone in another branch, organization or office effectively manipulate voting? Think of how many lobbyist would be out of a job. The mere fact that there is a career path option in politics, it creates a dubious conundrum. Serve myself or serve my constituents? Term limits would significantly reduce these temptations. Consider the reduced ethics violations and immediate innate bolstering of public trust toward our elected officials.
The people are guilty as well. In the pervasive environment of earmark legislation, why vote for some newbie that is not an insider? Think of how long it will take for them to become effective. We may not get the funding for the library, state park or community project. That thought process at a national level is not only cancerous, but an indictment of our 10th amendment. Why should tax payers in Ohio foot the bill (partially) for a library in Maine? An effective term limit policy will place priority over issues rather than legacy.
There is certainly a place for those that have a calling to serve in politics. There is also, a viable path for them to continue serving our great country with term limits in place. Service in local politics, can lead to service in state politics which in turn can create opportunities for the individual on the national level. On the national level there are opportunities to serve as a congressperson, senator and appointments to lead other federal agencies. Continue to serve, just not in the same capacity. We expect people to move in the private sector, we should expect the same of our politicians. When your job to become re-elected interferes with your duty to serve, what good can come from that? Who is tending to the people’s business during the campaign? More importantly, if they are able to do both, is it really full time work?
Although 50+ years as a US Senator is a tremendous accomplishment for Robert Byrd and nearly as long by Strom Thurman before him, is it really necessary? Is it what our founding fathers envisioned as a duty to their country? If they were only permitted to serve 4 years under term limits, what other significant accomplishments could they have made to our great country outside the senate? Were they really that good or did their legacy create a self-fulfilling prophecy? What other talented individuals could have been given the opportunity to serve as US Senators?