The Donald Trump presidency will be the most revolutionary phenomenon in our federal government in many decades. But, that needs to be accompanied now by another revolutionary move–Congressional term limits. I believe term limits would drain the swamp as effectively as anything Trump will do. The time is right, the iron is hot, Republicans have the presidency and Congressional majority, and a term limits amendment is already on the table. If it’s ever going to happen, it must happen now.
Elite, career politicians who have been in Washington over 30 years are in large measure what is wrong with our government. You can’t be in office that long without losing connection with the people you serve and thriving on self-preservation, pride, and wealth building. Your personal friendships replace commitment to constituents. Lobbyists become more important than those who voted for you.
Last week, Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Ron DeSantis introduced a proposed amendment to limit Senators to two terms (twelve years) and Representatives to three terms (six years). Although this proposal would grandfather current Congressmen, it would be a start as new blood is elected. A Constitutional amendment would require ratification by three-fourths of the state legislatures. That might not be too difficult though, since a Rasmussen survey last October showed that 74% of Americans supported term limits. Are you listening, Washington?
Presently, the average tenure of Senators is 10 years, and Representatives average nine years. But, the average tenure is not the problem. The problem is that many others stay three times that long. That kind of seniority may have some advantages for their constituents in influence and budget appropriations, but it also mires them in the Washington culture. They begin serving the institution rather than their state and district.
There are some other arguments for long tenures, but they are more than offset by the needs for fresh ideas, connection with the home front, and experience outside the government. Our forefathers never envisioned career politicians in the Congress. Serving in Congress then was expected to be a brief obligation, then back to the farm or store. That is what we need now.
Term limits won’t be easy to pass, although Trump is on board with it. I doubt that Obamacare removal, immigration reform, the Russian dilemma, or battling ISIS will take a back seat to term limits legislation. However, the important thing is that we keep it on the radar screen. It needs to pass in the next two years, or we will probably lose the opportunity.
I strongly urge each of you to contact your Congressman and Senators and tell them you expect them to get behind the proposed Cruz or DeSantis amendment. You should have their email address in your address book and their phone number in your contacts list. If you don’t, go to this link to find their offices: https://www.congress.gov/members.
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