Thursday 29 Sep 2016

Term Limits
Matt Seinberg

The family and I were at our friend Greg’s surprise party today at an Italian restaurant, and I was talking to his Uncle Joe, a very spry 80 something year old man who I have always enjoyed talking to. Uncle Joe always has some interesting stories, and he regaled us with some after dinner.

Before dinner, he and I were talking about the recent government shutdown, and the idiot Republicans that caused the mess. I am a staunch Liberal Democrat, and I rarely discuss politics simply for the reason that it can cause problems with those who you thought were friends.

Joe and I looked at each, and started talking about term limits. Think about it, having term limits for works for the office of the President, so why couldn’t it work for the House and Senate? The only President to serve more than two terms was Franklin Roosevelt, and that’s only because there was no “rule” stating any term limits of the Presidency.

Americans elected President Franklin D Roosevelt four times; he passed away, unexpectedly, during his fourth term. Congress passed the Term Limit Amendment on 27 March 1947, ratified, by the required number of states, on 27 February1951.

Here is a simple solution to the problems plaguing the Congress today. Limit the House and Senate to the same term limits of the president, eight years. Instead of the House having to run every two years and the Senate every 6 years, with unlimited terms, make them equal at four years each.

The current system of unlimited terms is just not working. The average Joe or Joanne doesn’t realize just how long their House Representative or Senator has served, until it’s too late. Sure, there are some very good people in these jobs, but there are also some very bad ones.

If the average citizen wants a change to the government, term limits are the way to achieve to it quickly and efficiently. Let’s just suppose, for a moment, that Congress decided to put themselves out of these undemanding jobs for the good of the country.

Would the entire Congress change overnight? The answer is no because the staggered terms are in place, already. It would take approximately six years for the entire Congress to roll over. If a House Representative already served six-to-eight years, she or he would not be eligible to run for a four year term because that would be them at serving ten-to-twelve years. If a Senator had served one six-year term, they could not run again since that would put serving for ten years.

Exceptions could me made depending on how long Congress had already served. If a Senator was in the middle of a term at three or four years, he or she could run for one more four-year term. If a Representative was in their second term at three or four years, she or he could run for one more four-year term, as well.

This kind of turnover would ensure that the seat of power was always changing and special interest groups and political action committees could not have the influence they have today over Congress.

If it’s good enough for the President, it’s good enough for the Congress. Is it a pipe dream? Probably, since no sane person would vote to put him or herself out of a job, and that’s exactly what term limits would do.

They would ensure new leadership every two-to-four years, depending on when current terms end. It would mean that Congress should install a revolving door, since nobody could stay in his or her job for more than eight years.

Now the question is how to implement this idea. I’m sure the independents would love it, whereas the Republicans and Democrats would shiver at the thought.

Why did the Founding Fathers not think of this when they wrote the Constitution? Why didn’t this happen in 1947, when the Presidential term limit passed through Congress? These are good questions, now we need good answers.

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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