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Term Limits

Page history last edited by Mike 1 year, 1 month ago

Rethinking Representation: The Case for Term Limits


Have you ever felt that Congress seems perpetually behind the curve, playing catch-up with contemporary issues such as social media, data privacy, and other recent trends? You're not alone.


In a recent survey, 82% of voters agreed with the statement, "Members of Congress stay in office too long." With the average ages of Representatives and Senators being 57.6 and 62.9 respectively, and many having served for decades, it's hardly surprising that public sentiment leans towards term limits. A consistent 74% of registered voters support the idea, according to one measure.


In the 1990s, an attempt was made to enforce term limits at the state level. However, the Supreme Court ruled in U.S. Term Limits Inc. v. Thornton that states could not impose such limits on their own Congressional members. The House of Representatives fell short of passing a bill to impose 12-year term limits on both Houses, lacking the necessary two-thirds majority to pass a Constitutional amendment. Despite this, many members of Congress continue to support similar bills.


The potential advantages of term limits are significant:

  • Term limits would incentivize lawmakers to prioritize impactful policy during their finite tenure in D.C.
  • Legislators would be less influenced by Washington's status quo or the need to climb their party's hierarchical ladder.
  • There would be a period when concerns about fundraising or re-election are set aside, enabling legislators to act in accordance with their beliefs without fear or apprehension.
  • Regular influx of new leaders would invigorate Washington with fresh ideas, breaking the cycle of protracted incumbencies and potentially ending the gerontocracy.

The overwhelming public support for term limits underlines a shared sentiment: something is inherently wrong with allowing individuals to govern for decades on end. Such prolonged tenures can lead to a disconnect between legislators and the constituents they represent. If you share the frustration of Washington D.C. lagging behind, advocating for term limits could be a step towards change.


Addressing the Problems Long-term incumbencies can lead to elected officials losing touch with their constituents. The relentless pressure of re-election campaigns often distracts them from their primary duty—governance. Over time, these relationships can afford special interests and lobbyists disproportionate influence over elected officials.


Andrew Yang once remarked, "Term limits in DC are a good idea. They would lead legislators to get something done and then go home. Term limits would also make room for new leaders with fresh ideas. The drawback is that they would entrench the non-legislative bureaucracy, since legislators would have a harder time organizing and forming coalitions. The best balance, then, is a term limit that would be long enough for expertise and coalitions to build without letting legislators become careerist and self-dealing.”


Our Proposal We advocate for the implementation of term limits for all officeholders. This approach provides a balanced solution that respects the need for experience and continuity while preventing careerism and undue influence in governance.


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