Term Limits Essay Research Paper There is — страница 2
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limiting the terms of everyone in service. Moreover, a term-limit clause would have meant that the federal charter was ambiguous or weak, and that gray areas of federal activity had to be compensated for by dumping every official who had served long enough to learn how to enrich himself in the dark shadows of the system. The Constitution has no real gray areas, no shadows, no ambiguities. But because the anti-federalists provoked imaginary concerns, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay went to great lengths to explain exactly what was intended in all seven articles of the new Constitution. The efforts of these three men resulted in a compilation of enduring political analysis, The Federalist Papers. From this authoritative resource we learn much about the powers delegated to our federal government and those reserved to the states. According to Alexander Hamilton, the states did not reserve the power to determine qualifications for federal office. In The Federalist, #60, he explained: “The state’s authority would be expressly restricted to the regulation of the times, the places, and the manner, of elections. The qualifications of the persons who may choose or be chosen, as has been remarked upon other occasions, are defined and fixed in the Constitution, and are unalterable by the legislature”. In Article I, Section 5 the Constitution further reserves to Congress the power to judge the qualifications of its members. Any restriction that is “fixed in the Constitution,” can be “unfixed” only by an amendment. But the adoption of a term limit amendment would signal that disobedience to the Constitution is a forgivable sin, that a strict construction of its meaning is not necessary, that the Constitution does not really mean what it says, that impeachment is unthinkable, and that bad conduct will be tolerated for a specified number of terms. After all, if legislators were held to their oaths of office, there would not be a need for term limits. Such an amendment would drive the final nail into the coffin of an irresponsible electorate. The accountability provided at the ballot box would in effect be ceded to government, and our freedom to vote would be forever limited. The stabilizing role of the Senate, already badly weakened by the 17th Amendment, would be reduced by term limits to a perpetual lame-duck assembly. At any given time, many of its members would be lame ducks who would have no accountability to the voters during their final six years. Accountability in the House would also fall victim to lame-duckery. Report cards on spending, such as the highly effective TRIM (Tax Reform IMmediately) program, would have no impact on House members serving their last term. A large number of lame-duck House members, who at all times would be coasting piously through their final two years, would be immune to the public response to their spending records as reported in the national TRIM Bulletins. Our nation’s Founders had great faith in a free and informed populace. They expected length of service to parallel the devotion and patriotism of those elected. At one point during the 1787 Convention, Governor Morris arose to comment on a term-limit proposal that had just been defeated: “The ineligibility proposed by the clause as it stood tended to destroy the great motive to good behavior, the hope of being rewarded by a re-appointment. It was saying to him, make hay while the sun shines.” In The Federalist, #72, Hamilton noted that “one of the ill effects of the exclusion from re-election would be a diminution of the inducements to good behavior. There are few men who would not feel much less zeal in the discharge of a duty when they were conscious that the advantage of the station with which it was connected must be relinquished at a determinate period, than when they were permitted to entertain a hope of obtaining, by meriting, a continuance of them. This position will not be disputed so long as it is admitted that the desire of reward is one of the strongest incentives of human conduct; or that the best security for the fidelity of mankind is to make their interest coincide with their duty”. There is nothing new about the inherent dishonesty of man when armed with a little power. That is why there is a Constitution. It was designed to allow the leaders enough force to defend the people, but not enough to enslave them. When the constitutionally fixed force of government is exceeded, either by intent or neglect, the people suffer, Today we suffer a twofold tragedy: the intentional usurpation of governing power by a few, compounded by the neglect of many.