Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Among the many remedies often suggested to help solve the problem of inept and unresponsive government is the imposition of term limits for members of Congress - restrictions on the number of consecutive years or terms of office an individual can serve before being forced to retire. Many people strongly favor amending the Constitution to provide for term limits ... a 2013 Gallup Poll showed that an astounding 75% of Americans favored them. Those who favor such limits point to the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1951, which limits the presidency to two terms, and ask why such limits should not apply to lawmakers as well.
I've gotten into any number of online arguments on this topic because I don't believe term limits - for the presidency or for Congress - ought to be part of the Constitution.
The aforementioned poll showed that 75% of Americans favor term limits for both houses of Congress ... but those same Americans keep reelecting the same people to more terms. The average voter seems to believe that term limits in principle are a good thing, but should apply only to all those other crooked, useless politicians and not to the hard-working, principled statesmen who represent their own district or state.
I look at proposals for term limits the same way I look at proposals for a balanced budget amendment ... not a bad idea in theory, but not something that belongs in the Constitution. We all know that laws mean whatever lawyers say they mean - for example, the Second Amendment* established the foundation for state militias as a defense against federal encroachment on the rights of the sovereign states, but it's been lawyered over the years into granting citizens the right to own deadly weapons for any reason. As much as "strict constructionists" may wish it differently, the Constitution means exactly what Congress and the courts interpret it to mean.
If you're serious about wanting term limits, do your civic duty and vote out the people you're displeased with ... don't foist your responsibility off on the Constitution.
Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.
* What it says is, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." The first four words have been both ignored and litigated out of existence.