As of Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Are congressional term limits an idea whose time has come? Whoa, not so fast.
President Donald Trump rode into the White House on the wave of that public sentiment voicing “It’s time for a change.” Now, looking to strike while the iron is hot, Idaho’s Rep. Raul Labrador is introducing a term limits constitutional amendment for congressional members.
H.J. Res. 50 proposes to limit service to six two-year terms in the House and two six-year terms in the Senate.
Rep. Labrador voices his arguments well in this week’s guest opinion. For our part, here are a few concerns to add into the discussion.
Foremost, term limits takes away voter choice to retain legislators whom they feel deserve continued service. The incumbent should be allowed to continue to run for re-election, allowing the voter to decide whether he or she deserves another term, versus getting the axe due to reaching an arbitrary 12-year limit.
Entrenched politicians, due to influence or political party dominance, are the price we pay for this, but at least, this is the will of the voter –those who bother to turn out – so we truly get the government we deserve. Term limits further absolves us of responsibility in participation, and our national victimization is further enabled with yet another convenient excuse.
And what about lobbyists? The entrenched federal bureaucracy? Information is power, and the continued fresh crop of “wet behind the ears” legislators will be easy pickings to lead by the nose. Without the counterbalance of veteran legislators who know the game, and who have backing from home to keep returning to D.C., expect term limits to sharply turn more power into the hands of private interests and “The Establishment.”
A constitutional amendment is not something to rush into. Let’s not ride the enthusiasm train to a rash, far-reaching decision. Let passions cool, and allow time and national conversation to determine the need for term limits.