Term limits are limitations that restrict the number of years that someone can serve in an elected office. However, there are no limitations of terms for the members of Congress. They are allowed to run for reelection as many times as they want. The founding fathers intended that elections would reflect the political values of citizens and check the power of government. Term limits should be implemented to prevent career politicians because the founding founders never intended politics to become a career.
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The United States should have a national referendum to propose a constitutional amendment to institute term limits. The founding of the United States was a radical movement by a collection of like-minded individuals who had new ideas of freedom and self-governments. The backgrounds of the founding fathers were varying from scholars, statesmen, industrialists, and businessmen. The juxtaposition of their backgrounds fostered debate, new ideas, consensus, and descent. It can be said the each of the founding fathers were leaders, not only in their communities, but in their fields. Professional politicians were not yet a byproduct of the new American government. Also there were not yet distinct political parties or PACs or super PACs (Political action committees).
In the beginnings of this representative republic most congressmen did not serve more than a couple of terms. Most had lives, families, and business to get back to. They saw serving in congress as a duty and sacrifice in an effort to make the country grow and stronger. Term limits should be introduced to reinforce states’ rights, reduce corruption, and reinvigorate the republic.
In the 1990 congressional reelection, voter’s reelected rate of incumbents exceeded ninety-six percent. Voters that disapproved by Congress just stayed at home and didn’t vote because it seemed that there opinion didn’t matter. It also made it difficult for voters to express their opinion about Congress. Two days before the election in 1990, there was a national survey that showed that sixty-nine percent of people did not approve of Congress. Fifty-one percent did approve of the congressmen that were chosen.
The 22nd Amendment was added to the constitution in February of 1951. This limited the number of terms a president can serve. Franklin Delano Roosevelt served twelve years. Congress decided that there needed to be an amendment that limits the amount of terms that presidents can serve for. They made this decision not long after Roosevelt’s death. Term limits were put in place to restrict too much executive power. Fifteen states have adopted term limits for their state legislators, but states can’t limit the terms for U.S. Senators.
On November third of 1992, in the Arkansas Supreme Court, amendment seventy-three (the term limitation amendment) was adopted by Arkansas voters. This amendment provided for limits of two terms for executive officials and state senators and three terms for state representatives. If someone served two or more terms as a member of the United States Senate from Arkansas, they would be ineligible for re-election as a US Senator from Arkansas, due to the term limitation amendment.
“Its preamble stated: ‘The people of Arkansas find and declare that elected officials who remain in office too long become preoccupied with reelection and ignore their duties as representatives of the people. Entrenched incumbency has reduced voter participation and has led to an electoral system that is less free, less competitive, and less representative than the system established by the Founding Fathers. Therefore, the people of Arkansas, exercising their reserved powers, herein limit the terms of the elected officials.’”. (Stevens 5)
In May of 1995, the Supreme Court made a decision ruling 5-4 in United States Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton. The ruling was that “states cannot impose term limits upon their federal Representatives or Senators. In the 1994 elections, part of the Republican platform included legislation for term limits in Congress” (Stevens 72).
Term limits would make it difficult for the federal government to enact rules, laws, create agencies that strip powers from the states, for example EPA (environmental protection agencies), DHS (department of homeland security), DOE (department of education), entitlement programs, earmarks, and subsidies. The Constitutional power that the federal government is responsible for is entering into treaties with foreign governments. They also have the power to wage war, declare war, and win war.
Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3 of the United States Constitution , which gives Congress the power “to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes.” Section 8 also explains Congress may have the “power to lay and collect taxes”, declare war, regulate interstate commerce, coin money, and raise an army.
“When the Framers met in Philadelphia in 1787 and wrote the constitution that governs us today, they addressed that failure and through the commerce and the privileges and immunities clauses that created a national free-trade zone. The original purpose of the commerce clause was primarily a means to eliminate trade barriers among the states. They didn’t intend for the commerce clause to govern so much of our lives. Indeed, as James Madison, the father of our Constitution, explained, ‘The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite’”. (Williams 3)
The longest someone has served in the Senate is fifty-one years, five months, and twenty-six days. The person who held this record is Robert C. Byrd. John Dingell Jr. served in the House of Representatives for more than fifty-three years. Congressmen are not there long enough to gain power, or write legislation in the form of tax loop holes. Term limits will break the cycle of career politicians (people building power over time) and facilitate a return to the “common man” being involved in the political process. They will bring new ideas, new perspective, and reinforce “of the people, by the people, for the people.”
The phrase “drain the swap” refers to removing career politicians from their elected office. There are a lot of people who think that America is just filled with a bunch of career politicians, and we need to “drain the swamp”. Some of these career politicians aren’t accountable to the people. They stop doing what the people want and focus on running for reelection and how they are going to deal with things themselves. “Term limits in Congress would encourage members of Congress to make their time in office matter.” (Desantis 21).
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A member of the United States Term Limits advocacy group wrote that “term limits don’t exist to keep people out of office. They exist to make the regular rotation possible, and to create opportunities for new leaders to emerge.”. Term limits aren’t meant to push people out of Congress. Without term limits, only certain people can run for election. Other citizens don’t have an equal chance of becoming a new congressman, when the same people get reelected every election. The Founding Fathers intended for other people to have a chance to become congressmen, develop new ideas, create opportunities, and become new leaders in America.
The Founding Fathers were not career politicians. It is difficult to believe when they were developing the frame work and the foundations of the new republic, that they would purposely develop or create a mechanism that would introduce a class of citizen who would monopolize and control the political process over time. While removing the very strength of the public, by eroding states’ rights and coagulate consolidating power into a central government. The United States of America was built as a representative republic. There should be no career politicians, billion dollar contracts, trillion dollar budgets, or two thousand plus page bills passed by the federal government, with hidden kickbacks, special interest, and earmarks.
The only time the federal government meaning the legislature should ever agree on anything should be in the matters of treaties, and war. The federal government was designed so that congress and the senate would find it extremely difficult to build consensus on any issue unless it was a clear and present danger, or such a massive societal shift that you could get more than 60 percent of the citizenry or their representative to agree to a national change. As it stands now, congress has turned into an elite club ran by career politicians, special interest, and power brokers. Instituting term limits would reinvigorate the republic, restore power to the states, and reduce corruption.
Liedl, Mark B. “The Case for Limiting Congressional Terms.” The Heritage Foundation, 1 Dec. 1990, www.heritage.org/report/the-case-limiting-congressional-terms.
Staff, LII. “Commerce Clause.” LII / Legal Information Institute, 11 June 2016, www.law.cornell.edu/wex/commerce_clause.
Williams, Walter E. “Commerce Clause Abuse.” Commerce Clause Abuse, 4 Oct. 2003, econfaculty.gmu.edu/wew/articles/03/abuse.html.
Murse, Tom. “The Pros and Cons of Imposing Terms Limits for Congress.” ThoughtCo, 9 July 2017, www.thoughtco.com/debate-over-term-limits-for-congress-3367505.
“U. S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton.” Oyez, 24 Apr. 2018, www.oyez.org/cases/1994/93-1456.
Stevens. U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton, 514 U.S. 779 (1995)., 22 May 1995, www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/93-1456.ZO.html.
“The Limits of Term Limits.” Restoration: Congress, Term Limits, and the Recovery of the Deliberative Democracy, by Terry Eastland, pp. 54–55.
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