I must admit: I’ve been, in a word, casually ambivalent to the call for congressional term limits. It has been a sobering experience to realize that my voice, while not singularly able to make a difference, was nonetheless missing in a critical debate.
The most powerful man in the free world, the president of the United States, gets two four-year terms to accomplish his mission. And while presidents may remain after their terms, as ghastly caricatures haunting the political landscape (think: Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton), they are limited in what they can do. Congressmen, however, can serve a lifetime, and for what? To what end?
There is nothing that can be accomplished in a multi-decade career that cannot be accomplished in six years, except for them to grow rich and accumulate the kind of obscenely lucrative retirement packages that they deny us. If, as my grandmother used to say, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop,” how much more so corruptible men and women with every corrupt temptation at their disposal.
Strict term limits would in theory return the power to where the Founding Fathers intended – to the people. Strict term limits would limit the amount of influence lobbyists have over both sides of the aisle.
There is a reason why companies like Goldman-Sachs have given Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., $458,000. It’s for influence and access. It is the voters – the very people who carry the water to get every Republican, every Democrat and every Independent elected – that get the short end of the stick.
The elected on both sides of the aisle have forgotten whom they are in office to serve. It is not the auto industry, it isn’t Planned Parenthood, and it certainly isn’t Citicorp. They are there to serve and adjure on behalf of the people.
Term limits would also allow for more people to have a realistic chance of running and winning. They would encourage a larger selection of candidates to choose from. One can even theorize that they would give birth to viable third-party choices – because candidates would not be competing against incumbents who have had years, even decades, to become involved with the extortive end of elected office.
I remain convinced that the Founding Fathers did not view political office as a lifetime career – Supreme Court Justices notwithstanding. They certainly did not intend for Congress to become a monarchy comprised of ruling elite – the elected and their minions deciding who would run, who would replace whom and when, and who would be funded and who wouldn’t. The Founding Fathers took painful steps to prevent the kingship form of government they had left behind. If only they could have foreseen that they were paving the way for a monarchy, whose members would view themselves as the ruling elite – knights and lords, if you will.
Members of Congress should know what it is to work and struggle to make ends meet. If they are able to amass wealth – so be it – but it shouldn’t be amassed at the expense of the voters. It should be because they labored. It is obscene to listen to liberals like Pelosi, Waters, Schumer, et al., pontificate about someone else’s wealth, as if they have done anything to earn theirs.
Two terms of three years – maximum – for life, would solve much of the political cronyism and obstructionism. Republicans would be able to show resolve because they wouldn’t have to worry about chairmanships and committee appointments. Said limits would also, by default, bring men and women who actually know what they are doing – people that actually care about more than how much the last smile and/or handshake put into their campaign coffers.
Congressmen as a whole are interested in money, votes and self-preservation. So instituting term limits is not something that will be easy to accomplish. There is no incentive for politicians to limit their ability to bilk the voters. If we are to take back our country and government, it isn’t enough to vote out the bad – only to install new ones, who over time become as corrupt as the ones thrown out.
Having said that, let me address the cynical. Actor Danny DeVito’s character in the movie “Other People’s Money” uttered one of the classic lines of all time when he said, “Change all the laws you want, but you can’t stop the game. I’ll still be here – [I don't go away] – I adapt.” Great line, absolute truth – however, by changing the laws, we can minimize the harm they do and lengthen the period of time it takes them do it.
We don’t need 22,000 gun laws. We don’t need Congress involved in the cigarette industry. We don’t need them involved in education and creating race/sex-based punishments, as if one law for a crime isn’t good enough. We need Congress and the president to understand “secure the borders now, no work permits, no amnesty and no citizenship for illegals – and severe punitive action for businesses and individuals who hire them.” Congress should know that America believes marriage is between one man and one woman, and that we’re fed up with the death tax. They should know we’ve had it with their arrogance and pomposity.
It is time to form coalitions and groups to work together for the reform of our government – by taking it back. Keep in mind: Politicians are no smarter than the next guy – just slicker.