Us Term Limits Essay Research Paper When

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Us Term Limits Essay, Research Paper When the Constitution of the United States was adopted in 1789, it was without direction regarding term limits for legislators. At the time, professional politicians were unheard of, and the idea of someone serving for more than one or two terms was unlikely. So the Constitution did not formally address the issue of term limits, although it was understood that officeholders would limit themselves to one or two terms and then return to private life (1). With the advent of the modern state, however, came the making of Congress as a career, and thus the voluntary removal of oneself from office, as envisioned by the founders, is no longer regularly undertaken in the United States Congress. The structure of the Congress supports members who

have held office for several terms thereby undermining the idea of the citizen-legislator put forth by the founders. Instead of citizens who will soon return to the community that elected them, professional Congress-people spend more time in Washington than in their home states, and usually make Congress their career. What has developed in recent years, in response to congressional careerism, is the drive to impose limits on the length of time someone may serve in Congress. Currently, advocates of term limits are calling for two terms in the Senate, and three in the House. It is possible, then, for a member to serve six years in the House, twelve years in the Senate, eight years as Vice President, and eight years as President, a total of thirty-six years. It is not unlikely,

therefore, that there will continue to be career politicians. The issue is not about total time that one may participate in government, rather it is about how long one may serve in a particular capacity. Term limits enjoy popular, but not political, support, thereby polarizing the electorate and the elected. This paper will discuss the popular support for term limits, the arguments on both sides, and draw conclusions about the need for Congressional term limits in the United States Support for term limits encompasses close to three-quarters of the American population (2). The question is why. The simple answer is that the American people no longer trust a system they view as corrupt and biased towards the few. But the issue is really not this simple, nor is its basis of support.

While on the surface it is corruption and bias that feed the resolve for limits, underneath it is too complex an issue to describe so succinctly. Rather the issue includes Congressional scandals, allegations of bribery and sexual harassment, questionable campaign contributions, and Congressional perks such as no-interest loans and free, reserved parking at the airport (3). “To many, it seem[s] that one reason Congress ha[s] lost touch with ordinary people [is] because so many members [are] in Congress too long.” (4) According to Ed Crane of the Cato Institute, “Americans want to open up the political process. They want their fellow citizens who live and work in the real world — the private sector — to represent them. Not career legislators It would allow good people

from across the political spectrum to participate in the political process as candidates, even if they happen to have spent most of their life outside the limelight in the private sector like the rest of us.” (5) Clearly voters support term limits for a variety of reasons, yet these reasons all share a common feature: the desire for a more competitive electoral process, and the hope that term limits will also limit corruption. The strength of public support for term limits can be seen in the fact that several states voted to limit the length of time their representatives can serve in Congress. By the middle of 1995, almost half of the states had limited the number of terms for their representatives. This success of the term limit movement at the grass roots level faced a