According to the United States Constitution, “No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen (U. S. Archives 1).
Additionally the United States Constitution states that, “No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen (U.S. Archives 1). With these minimum restrictions put in place by our Founding Fathers 236 years ago, they believed that an average citizen of the United States would have gained enough education, “worldly” experience, and maturity in order to successfully make the important decisions needed to run our country and provide checks and balances upon the President of the United States.
As you read the entire original part of the United States Constitution (minus the additions of the Bill of Rights or the Amendments that follow it) the Founding Fathers mention the stipulations of how long the terms are for Congressman (2 years) and for Senators (6 years), but there is no mention of anything in regards to how many times an average citizen can run for a seat in the House of Representatives or a seat in the Senate.
Now I don’t know whether our Founding Fathers did that on purpose or if it was an unintentional oversight when they were drafting the final copy of the Constitution, but if you flash forward 236 years to the present, we now have come to a problem that has been steadily increasing for the past 50 years in our government. The problem that I am referring to is that our Representatives and Senators are making careers out of running for office and are looking out for their own interests rather than doing the job that they were elected to do and that is to lookout for the interest of the general population that they are representing.
Our Congressman and Senators have been very crafty at hiding the main issue brought up by the Constitution by diverting attention to a very minor issue at the time and that was placing a cap on the number of times the President can run for re-election. Prior to the ratification of the 22nd Amendment to the United States Constitution, anybody who ran for President could essentially run for that office and be re-elected as many times as they wanted to run for it. Only 3 past Presidents tried to break the two term tradition that George Washington implied back in the 1790s.
Franklin Roosevelt was the only one successful at breaking that tradition. He unfortunately passed away due to complications of polio during the beginning of his unprecedented 4th term in office. As a result Congress proposed and successfully passed the 22nd Amendment and it took place after President Truman left office in 1953. It was kind of important that the House and Senate did ratify this Amendment but they never solved the other problem that was just beginning in Washington which was the dawning of the “career politician”.
The main issue that is up for debate is whether or not our Senators and House Representatives should follow the same type of term limits that our President has to abide by as a result of the 22nd Amendment. I personally don’t believe that we live in a Democratic society because our Senators and Representatives can be in office for an endless number of terms and only accomplish less than a handful of things for the people that they are supposedly representing.
The secondary issues that are also presented in this problem is how would we as citizens of the United States force our elected officials of Washington to vote and ratify a potential 28th Amendment that would limit the number of times a Senator or a member of the House of Representatives could run for office. Also, how could we protect one aspect of the current system that we have in place so we never have all freshman Senators and Representatives in office.
The danger would potentially lead to them possibly be persuaded into corruption by outside influences. POLICY STATEMENT The issue of limiting the number of terms that a Congressman or a Senator can seek re-election is a huge hot button issue today. It is also an issue that has a rather large conflict of interest stamp behind it. The reason for this is because our Senators and Congressman are in direct control of whether or not this issue is brought out of a committee and eligible to be sent to the States for potential ratification.
There is a Constitutional way to get around the Senate and the House from bringing up this issue, but the problem is that we as a nation haven’t done it in over 200 years. What I am referring to is a state’s ability to call a Constitutional Convention to propose and ratify an Amendment. During a Constitutional Convention, special delegates from each state would gather in each state’s respective capital and would vote to decide whether or not they would want to ratify the proposed Amendment.
While these conventions are in session, a major problem that might occur could potentially change forever the way our country is run. The change that I am referring to is that is the delegation could decide voting to scrap our current Constitution and potentially ratifying a new one. The other issue that could cause huge problems is how would we as a nation decide on who would represent, for example, the State of New York at a convening of a Constitutional Convention? Would we allow our current Senators and Congressman to be a part of that committee or would they be barred from participating?
Would we call an election so that we could vote for the people to represent New York or would we use Federal New York Judges or maybe even the Supreme Court Justices to represent segments of the country? All of these types of “what if questions” would arise immediately, if for some reason a majority decided to end using our current Constitution as the law of the land. On the matter of limiting the number of terms that our elected officials in Washington are allowed to run for, an overwhelming majority of the country agrees that it would be more beneficial to the population as a whole.
When you look at this issue, you can see that the benefits definitely outweigh the risks that would be involved. According to term limit advocacy websites such as Tenurecorrupts. com and Balancedpolitics. org, the authors say that it is common nature for voters to want to limit the number of terms that a politician can be in office. They say that a good and reasonable amount of time that a Senator can be in office and still be effective in doing well for his or her constituents is two terms of a six year term.
That would give a Senator 12 years to be in office and give them enough experience to teach younger Senators how proper procedure is followed in the Senate when it comes to the daily routines of the Senate. The authors of both of these websites also advocate for our Congressman to have term limits. They say that our Congressman should only be allowed to serve a maximum of 3 terms in office. Their belief is that if a Congressman wants to be in office for longer than 3 terms, then they should run for the Senate.
Their justification is that Congress should be seen as a way for people to gain experience in politics. They believe that 6 years is plenty of time to show their constituents how serious they are about bettering the district they are supposed to serve rather than bettering themselves. The other main belief is that by having a consistent rotation of new politicians, the lobbyists and other special interests groups that have infested the ranks of Washington will have a harder time of corrupting our politicians.
Almost all the lobbying and special interest groups that are in Washington are completely against limiting the number of terms that our politicians in Washington can serve mainly due to the fact that they wouldn’t have any more allies on Capitol Hill. Lobbyists and Special Interest groups spend millions and millions of dollars “investing” their money into protecting candidates that are easy for them to manipulate and mold into doing whatever they want them to do. Anyone that they feel as a threat to their prosperity, they try to eliminate in any way possible.
Unfortunately, there is a bad side to having term limits on our politicians. By having term limits, you can end up losing really strong politicians that do everything they possibly can while in office to look out for the best intentions for their constituents. When you have politicians like that in office, people tend to vote for them to continue their good work. By placing term limits on our politicians in Washington, you run a high risk of replacing strong willed Representatives and Senators with ones that are not as up to par as their predecessors were.
You would then end up with dysfunction and disconnect between our politicians in Washington and the general population on Main Street which would be very similar to what we have now but just ever worse. Another argument that both of these authors bring up is that currently our election system is setup where we don’t ever have a complete overhaul of politicians in Washington, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. They state that if a potential 28th Amendment was passed and ratified by the states, we would end up having a huge nationwide election.
Who would then be left to be in charge of Washington if for some reason something happened on a national level? Candidates would be totally engaged in their own election campaigns that if a national crisis were to occur such as an act of war, there would not be anyone in Washington to vote on a war declaration nor any other federal emergency declaration. The authors also bring up a National Security point of view on this subject. With all the politicians on Capitol Hill engaged in their election campaigns, there wouldn’t be enough State Police or Secret Service details to for all 435 Senators and Congressman.
This would mean that the State and Federal Governments would have to use what limited resources it has to hire more police protection for these politicians. CONCLUSION The current political system that we have in Washington is totally disconnected from the general population and they are morally corrupt. We have politicians that are making lifelong careers of doing absolutely nothing for their constituents and earning our hard earned tax money as a pension plan as a result of it.
As I have discussed throughout this paper, the most logical way of restoring power back to the people and showing these politicians who is really in charge is to draft a Constitutional Amendment. This would put into place term limits for Capitol Hill politicians. This is a very controversial and hot button issue that has drawn a lot of flack mostly from powerful Washington Lobbyists and Special Interest groups of which would be the biggest losers if this were to be ratified by the States.
The other problem that we run into is risking a majority of the States to decide on drafting up a totally new Constitution rather than following the one we have currently as law of the land. I am hoping that maybe in the future (preferably not in the distant future) a Constitutional Amendment will be brought out of committee and on to the House or Senate floor to be voted upon. It would state that House and Senate members have to abide by specific term limits rather than general limits that are currently in place.