Terms of Senators and Congressmen Should be Further Limited
In the United States, the 22nd amendment precisely highlights that the presidency should have a two-term limit (Flynn, 2014, p. 150). This idea was contrived by George Bush, who established the tradition of presidents quitting office upon exhaustion of two terms. Essentially, George Washington was endeavoring to champion the idea of public servants rather than career political figures. After Washington, many other presidents who followed tried vying for a third term but failed except for one Frank Roosevelt in 1940. This saw the spring of the Republicans’ rage against a third term president but held their horses until 1944 when the debate was initiated. It was at the time when Roosevelt was eying a fourth term and his Republican opponent Thomas Dewey frenzied over the idea arguing that a fourth term would be poisonous to the democratic milestone that the US had achieved then. In 1947, a Republican-controlled congress sent the 22nd amendment to the various states for approval. The bill got ratified on February 27th, 1951. In contemporary America, apprehensions about government opacity and accountability issues have inspired the idea of term limits as an instrument to trim down corruption as well as to make the Congress and senate perform better. Even so, there arise questions from myriad quarters on whether it is to trim the term limits of senators and members of Congress further. While some experts discourse that the term limits should not also be limited, it is imperative to appreciate the inspiration behind the discourse of individuals championing for the move.
Fett and Ponder (2011) weigh into the debate with the view that is limiting the terms of senators and members of Congress, even more, will automatically kick out effective lawmakers. They opine that with the idea in place, there would be a severe short of apt lawmakers in the system. Curtailing the term limits, even more, would ensure that the talents and skills of knowledgeable and efficient members in the arduous task of crafting and advancing legislation run out against a short time horizon. Fett and Ponder add that there is no profession in any niche that forces efficient employees into retirement with no considerations of their value to the organization. Thus, it would not make enough sense to force out senators and members of Congress after a short time. It would, instead, be more logical to capitalize on their skills, talents, and experience for the betterment of their constituents. In the end, the public shall have had a disservice meted to them. More plainly, kicking out lawmakers just because their time has run out is equivalent to a bad return on the investment of the time they spent mastering the labyrinth of rules and precedents of each chamber. Fett and Ponder (2011) also discourse that policymaking is a profession in and of itself. The system gives legislators the mandate to create and develop legislation that is an answer to some of the most pertinent issues that have a significant likelihood of unintended consequences. So, coming up with legislative proposals, just like any other profession, is a learned and mastered skill. Analyses have shown that policy legislated with lawmakers exhibiting ambiguity and loopholes in the provisions that undermine the intended effect of the individual system (Simon, 2013, p.63).
The clarity of Fett and Ponder’s argument is difficult to deny. However, it must be understood that there are many individuals with the right attitude and qualifications of the right propensity to take up the lawmaking duty. As such, they have only one individual in the same position for a long time would be nothing short of monopoly. While it cannot be denied that experience is a crucial determinant to an individual’s capacity to serve in the Senate or Congress, it cannot, similarly, be refuted that new faces inject much-needed new energy into the system. As such, there is a need to shorten the term-limits of members of Congress and senators so that new entrants with the required lawmaking capabilities can find their way into the system too.
Taking power from the voters is perhaps the most apparent consequence of limiting term-limits (VanDusky-Allen, 2009, p. 431). Reducing term limits is a significant factor in disenfranchising voters. A fundamental system principle is that voters are given a chance to vote in their preferred candidates in a free, fair, credible, and verifiable election. Again, members who know they have a relatively long time being policymakers have less pressure to develop expertise in particular issues because, in most instances, the knowledge accrued will not be nearly as valuable in a short while. A semblance of this effect was evident when the Republicans House Committee only had six years to be at the helm. This significantly limited the incentives of the chairs to dive deep into the details of various policies given that chairs know that they will have a short time before giving up the gavel.
Sandusky-Allen is, by no chance, inaccurate in her discourse. However, in some cases, legislators tend to neglect their duties and instead major on corrupt dealings in the government. Sometimes, they just exhibit outright incompetence. In such scenarios, reducing the term limits comes as a much-needed relief for voters who will now have the chance to kick them out and inject new blood into the Congress and senate. So, while VanDusky-Allen thinks it is indistinguishable with disenfranchisement, it turns out to be a weight lifted off voters’ shoulders.
In support of furthermore limiting terms, it is not a secret that money is often a significant factor for the reelection of individuals both into the Senate and the Congress (“Term Limits And Legislative Representation” 128). While portrayed that all members are playing in an open field, it is not a secret that incumbents have the upper hand stemming from the profits they accumulated while in power. Besides, incumbents also have the advantage of backing by their party, special interests, and contributing organization. However, most of the time, the wealthy incumbents are some of the most incompetent and are probably not the best persons for the job. Most of them removed from the daily realities of the American people. The damage that this demographic of politicians can inflict is better left imagined. The best way to end the cycle of impunity and unethical conduct is by shortening the time limit even more. Shorter time limits will help in eliminating the profitable relationship that most senators and members of Congress have between them and groups with special interests, which will, in turn, reduce the wealth gap between candidates. The fact that it is not easy for a less wealthy individual to find their way into the two elective posts is in the public domain. Even more, the wealthy politicians wield such financial power and influence of an intimidating metric, thus not providing the chance for a more qualified individual to assume the seat and serve the people with all honesty. In a comment discrediting the long-term limits, Penning (2012) advances that lack of ethics, the uses of huge finances, and the connections that incumbent have over their counterparts are some of the aspects that will render elections a waste of time. Penning continues to discourse how disreputable politics has been every electioneering period and says that shortening the term limits may come as a savior both to the electorates and the less wealthy candidates.
Moreover, when term limits remain long, it is possible that public funds wasted in moves to reward political loyalty. In perspective, laws and legislatures within Congress and the Senate are crafted and advanced by committees in the respective houses. There are several committees, each handling specific duties. Being a member of such committees is coveted, and the appointments can be very prized. As such, these are positions left for the wealthy and power-wielding politicians with the appropriate influence and power backing attainable. Most of the time, the seats are assigned in a move to reward individuals for supporting various courses and projects of the ruling party. It is, therefore, more common to see career politicians in such positions as they have the most self-serving relationships. Cutting the term limits further can be handy in stopping the loop of political reward and impunity. It would see the exit of seasoned crafty politicians and the entrance of fresh blood with the interest of the people at heart, and the assignments to various committees would be purely on merit, which would result in an informed decision.
In a nutshell, the most notable aspect of the sentiments in the US is the term-limit debate. Each faction sought to encapsulate itself in the mantle of ‘the people,’ the highest authority in democratic politics. For these purposes, it is imperative to mention the jarring conflict inside a document with the words ‘we the people’ kicking off the preamble. The moment one ignores the preamble for their interests, the constitution brings in a dense lattice of provisions to put a restraint on democratic institutions and a plethora of electoral obstacles. These obstacles aim to prohibit the simple majority from imposing their will upon the public.
Notwithstanding, the fundamental constitutional safeguards, Penning assures, is a fundamental principle of the representative democracy, that the people have the right to choose those that they feel are better placed to represent their interests in both Senate and the Congress. One result, which can be wished away, is that the opportunity to be elected is open to all. Penning recognizes the critical postulate that sovereignty, having been vested in the people, confers them with the right to choose their representatives freely to the government. Penning’s argument indicates that no one should be barred by the term-limits if they are eligible for office. Nonetheless, after Franklin Roosevelt’s four terms, the 22nd amendment put a time limit to the presidency, after which debates on the term limits of members of Congress and senators set in. Individuals who disapprove of the idea of reducing term limits argue that experience is key to coming up with the best legislatures. Also, it is noted by some scholars that term further limiting the names of members of Congress and senators would lead to the disenfranchisement of voters. Even though the arguments opposing a reduction in the term limit are irrefutable, the magnitude of harm to the electorate and democracy outweighs its good. Foremost, reducing term limits will get rid of the problem of political rewards by power-wielding politicians. As well, it will ensure that fresh blood is injected into the system, which can be critical in driving the list of the constituents with much-needed new energy. Thus, term limits should be further limited to avoid nurturing career politicians and instead bring in service people into the system.
Flynn, Vince. Term Limits. Print.]
Fett, Patrick J., and Daniel E. Ponder. “Congressional Term Limits, State Legislative Term Limits And Congressional Turnover: A Theory Of Change.” PS: Political Science and Politics 26.2 (2010): 211. Web.
Simon, Schnyder. “Term Limits And Political Budget Cycles: First Term Or Last Term Effect?.” SSRN Electronic Journal (2012): n. pag. Web.
Sandusky-Allen, Julie. “The Conditional Effect Of Term Limits On Electoral Activities.” Politics & Policy 42.3 (2014): 431-458. Web.
“Term Limits And Legislative Representation.” Electoral Studies 16.1 (1997): 128. Web.
Penning, James M. “PLANNING LEGISLATIVE CAREERS UNDER TERM LIMITS.” Southeastern Political Review 24.2 (2008): 362-366. Web.