Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Why Term Limits Are Not Universally Good.

So Donald Trump the other day gave a speech at Gettysburg, PA.  This historical site was used by Trump to give an overview of his first 100 days.  He buried his own lead by first suggesting that he would sue those accusing him of sexual assault since a tape of him bragging about doing it came out. (Spoiler Alert he won't sue, he threatens a lot but rarely follows through).  But one thing he suggested was to push for a Constitutional Amendment to create term limits on Congress.  This was a nod to the right-wing of the GOP who on occasion call for it until they get in office.  But I think we should talk about them.

Term Limits have been used at the state and local levels for some offices, often the executive.  After FDR won the Presidency 4 times, there was a successful scramble to change the Constitution to make the US Presidency limited to two terms, which was a standard set by George Washington and followed until the 1940s.  There have been times since then that term limited Presidents would have been likely re-elected.  But the executive is different from the members of Congress.  Limiting the President is a way of not allowing a single individual to have so much power.

However that is not the case for members of Congress.  The House members get re-elected every 2 years and the Senate every six.  We control their number of terms.  But if there is a person elected by a district or even a state who is doing a good job for that district or state and represents them well, why should they not be able to keep that person in the office?  If they don't represent their district or state they should be ousted.  The system works on paper.  But we have professional politicians and a system that makes them often set in stone to win unless they do something completely outrageous.

The American electorate clearly does not think about their member as the problem.  Often their tenure gives them power to bring home what we once called pork barrel projects.  Gerrymandered districts means that a candidate may not share all one's values but they are often closer than the opposition.  Also the amount of money being able to be poured into races from outside sources, specifically from special interests, allow people who will not be represented by a candidate to effect the race.

So better than term limits what if we:
1.  Used population algorithms to create Congressional districts instead of a meeting in a state house. '
2.  Limit money from outside sources, one can't donate to a candidate that won't represent them.
3.  Limit incumbent's ability to use tax payer funded office mailings in an election year to promote self.
4.  Grow local and state parties in areas dominated by one party over the other.

We have seen that when people work hard they can break a candidate's streak of victories but that is hard.  That is the term limit we already have.  Frankly I think the Constitutional amendment takes away freedom and is lazy.  Aren't those things unAmeican?

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