Skip to comments.Term Limits - Success or Failure
Posted on 06/12/2007 12:17:06 PM PDT by backtothestreets
Many FReepers still consider term limits a remedy to problems that plague our nation.
I am located in California where term limits is now the law for all non-federal elective offices. The effort was primarily aimed at removing one person from state politics, Willie Brown, then Speaker of the Assembly.
My personal assessment is that term limits has ushered in an era of progressive-liberalism from both the Democratic and Republican parties never imagined. It has also tossed many very capable conservatives from office. I wonder how others assess term limits now.
Using California as the example, how many FReepers would like to see term limits extended into all states and Congress?
Nothing will change until term limits become law.
Here's what Mr. Madison had to say in Federalist 53:
A few of the members, as happens in all such assemblies, will possess superior talents; will, by frequent reelections, become members of long standing; will be thoroughly masters of the public business, and perhaps not unwilling to avail themselves of those advantages. The greater the proportion of new members, and the less the information of the bulk of the members the more apt will they be to fall into the snares that may be laid for them. This remark is no less applicable to the relation which will subsist between the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Term Limits are absolutely necessary in a Republic. As Madison notes, some legislators will become masters. In today’s world this comes from tenure and all the named and unnamed privileges afforded to long-standing legislators. This gives undue influence of citizens represented by tenured legislators (masters) over citizens represented by freshman or less tenured legislators. A Republic must protect the less represented citizen from citizens that continually elect the same legislators to gain undue power, privilege and influence in the legislative branch. The only way is to limit the term an individual can serve in the US Congress.
Then perhaps you can make a citation to what he actually said with sources and in context, please. Madison (in Federalist 50-52) pointed out that the checks and balances within a limited government precluded such despotism. Madison also preferred to leave the decision as to when to remove a legislator up to the people, as I cited in his own words above.
The rest of your post is equally unsupported assertion.
After all is said and done, it's the voters who are mostly to blame or credit with the condition of the government, even more so when term limits are in place. After all, they elected the rotten scoundrels.
First, would term limits give control of government to bureaucrats that are not elected, but serve their entire career with the government?
Secondly, I’ve seen some suggestions to limit total time served in elective office to a combined 16 years. Had this been the law in 1960, Richard Nixon would have been prohibited from seeking the presidency as he had already served 6 years as Senator from California and 8 years as Vice-President under Eisenhower, thus he had already 14 total years in elective office. Just a thought for consideration.
It would sure push things that way, because the liege-slatterns won't be as familiar the ins and outs of agency connivances. Of course, that's not always a bad thing.
Re total time, who would have the wisdom to deny Henry Clay, Patrick Henry, or Jesse Helms on the strength of too much time in office, much less Antonin Scalia, Story, Fuller, or Taney? To allow that much latitude for whimsy is to engage in a poor understanding of history.
I’d just keep it to similar offices - 16 years as any kind of state or federal judicial office (okay to have 16 years in each), 16 years in Congress (both houses) or the legislature (both houses again), but 16 in the state legislature and another 16 in Congress okay, etc.
The only appointive office I’d hit with term limits would be judicial. Federal judges are incredibly arrogant and, as Supreme Court justices, can do incredible damage. So term limits for judges is pretty much damage control.
I could care less if some bureaucrat has a career - most of them are working stiffs like us, and expertise is pretty important for many. You can risk your kids’ lives on some water quality guy with only eight years experience - I’d rather have my water quality guy have twenty years experience.
My opinion of term limits is mine, and all should develop their own, which may or not be similar to mine.
I do not believe term limits is the answer to our woes. It seems no matter who gains elective office the course does not change much.
Having read the replies, and with my tainted personal perspective, I think there is something that could have a greater impact. Prohibit all campaign contributions from organizations, businesses, PACs, Labor Unions and whatever other legal groups exist. All organizations are comprised of people.
Allow them to make their contributions solely as individuals. This would give campaign fund raising a transparency to see who is really pulling the strings & yanking the chains of the candidates and elected office holders.
At present we hold our disdain for the elected, not the puppet masters. We have got to identify the puppet masters. Only then can we keep them from putting their puppets in place.
I recall a situation 20-30 years ago when a Post Master over the area I lived in at that time did something that infuriated the local community. Complaints did not go to the Post Office General, but to our local Congressman. It was he that nominated the local Post Master to the President, and it was the Congressman that stood to lose if he did not move to correct the situation.
What we had then was greater local control.
Now to support my notion that tenured legislators have undue influence over citizens represented by less tenured legislators, one only has to look at "No Child Left Behind", ADA, and the recent immigration "reform" bill to understand the Senator Kennedy and the Commonwealth of MassacuTAXES has more influence on my life than my 2nd term and 1st term Senator from Missouri. (And don't get me started on West Virginia)
Actually, he would point to the "Selective Incorporation" doctrine of the 14th Amendment and the 16th and 17th Amendments for the growth of the Federal government, blaming the people for letting the Republic go down the drain.