Monday, February 15, 2010

So You Want to Take Your Country Back!

Part Two: Term Limits

For years, many American citizens have become angry at the members of congress and senators who have been in congress for 30 to 40 years, who have developed loyal backers who keep them there election after election. These backers represent special interests, many which many or most citizens do not support.

Historically, term limits have figured most prominently in the executive branch of the U.S. government. While the Constitution did not originally mandate limits for the office of the presidency, George Washington, the first president (1789-1797), started the tradition of self-imposed limits by serving only two terms.[1] The precedent was followed for 144 years, until President Franklin Delano Roosevelt ran for and won a third term in 1940 (he would eventually win a fourth).[2] In 1951, Congress passed and 41 states ratified the Twenty-Second Amendment, which forbade any citizen from being elected president more than twice (or once if he/she had previously served more than 2 years of another presidential term).[3]
1. ? Martin Kelly. "George Washington - First President of the United States,"
2. Franklin D. Roosevelt. Source.
3. ? "U.S. Constitution," FindLaw.

Many members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, have been in congress over many presidential administrations. Some have built dynasties such at the Adams, Tafts, Roosevelts, Kennedys, Byrds, Dodds, Pryors, Bayhs, Bennetts, Bushes, and others. Some ascended to the ‘throne’ years after their fathers departed. Others immediately.

Senators and members of congress gain too much power and influence as their years of service add up. Special interest groups attach themselves to various ones and support them with political donations during local elections. We the taxpayers pay for their ‘earmarks, support of groups such as Planned Parenthood, Acorn, the unions, Gay and Lesbian groups, and favors to industries in their own states.

The Constitution did not specify term limits for publically elected officials. This was debated when the document was being debated. However, no limits were mandated. The Constitution does specify that senators would be selected by their respective state legislatures for six years, changed by the Seventeenth Amendment, which I will cover in the next part of this series. Members of congress would serve two years and would have to run for re-election every two years.

In the elections of 1994, part of the Republican platform was to pass legislation setting term limits in Congress. After winning the majority, they brought a constitutional amendment to the House floor.

It limited members of the Senate to two six-year terms and members of the House to six two-year terms. Because the Republicans held 230 seats in the House, they were able to get a simple majority. However, constitutional amendments require a two-thirds majority, or 290 votes, and the votes to restrict term limits in Congress fell short of that number. Source.

The above suggestions would limit all members of congress to 12 years service. This is enough for each house of congress to recognize those they want to elect to committee chair positions, but will limit influence in supporting special interests. As it is difficult, at the wikipedia article states, it to get enough votes to pass a term limits amendment to the constitution. The solution is to hold our candidates to national public office to promise to work toward developing and passing such an amendment.

The next step is up to us between now and November 2010.

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