Texas Senator Ted Cruz and five other Republican senators have, once again, reintroduced a constitutional amendment that would limit the number of years a person can serve in the Senate to twelve (two terms).
On his Senate website, Cruz noted that every person of every political stripe supports the idea of limiting the number of years one can serve as a senator and that those who serve far longer than they should are often corrupted and going against what the founders intended.
“Every year, Congress spends billions of dollars on giveaways for the well-connected: Washington insiders get taxpayer money and members of Congress get re-elected, all while the system fails the American people. It’s no wonder that the vast majority of Americans from every political stripe – Republicans, Democrats, and Independents – overwhelmingly support congressional term limits,” said Cruz.
“The rise of political careerism in today’s Congress is a sharp departure from what the Founders intended for our federal governing bodies. I have long called for this solution for the brokenness of Washington, D.C., and I will continue fighting to hold career politicians accountable. As I have done in the past, I urge my colleagues to submit this constitutional amendment to the states for speedy ratification,” he added.
Joining him are Sens. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), and Mike Braun (R-Ind.), all of whom echo Cruz’s sentiment that long-term service isn’t healthy for the individual or for America.
“Washington is more dysfunctional than ever, and I’m fighting every day to make reforms in the best interest of American families,” said Scott. “Career politicians are never going to make the tough choices needed to get our nation on a successful path. They care more about politics and their next election than the future of this country. That has to end now. We need to reimagine government and term limits are the right place to start.”
“I have long been a supporter of congressional term limits, which would infuse Congress with real-world experience, perspectives, and sensibilities,” said Toomey. “Term limits also have the added benefit of being supported by supermajorities of Republicans and Democrats. As Benjamin Franklin put it, ‘In free governments, the rulers are the servants, and the people their superiors…. For the former to return among the latter does not degrade, but promote them.’”
Many have made arguments against term limits, citing experience being necessary to navigate the complicated workings of Washington and the wisdom garnered from years of dealing with issues being needed to judge a vote accurately.
However, what Cruz and company have presented to us is something of an insider’s look, and they see that the longer one stays, the more ingrained and D.C.-esque you become. Corruption seeps in despite one’s best efforts and the will to stay in your job begins to outweigh the need to serve the people. You go from doing a job to playing the game.
Indeed, being a politician in D.C. is one of the few jobs in the world where you get worse at it as time goes on, not better.
“But we have term limits in the form of elections,” you may hear as an argument.
John F.M. Kocsis writing for The Harvard Crimson back in 2013 made an excellent case as to why elections may not be the problem solver you think it is:
Anyone who makes this latter argument has either a jejune understanding of political science or, more plausibly, is an elected official himself. Only a starry-eyed tyro to the workings of the world could possibly contend with a straight face that elections currently provide citizens with the unrestrained ability to choose new representatives. After all, the advantage of incumbency is well documented throughout American history. To see it, one need look no further than the past election, when over three-fourths of those in Congress were reelected, despite the body’s 9 percent approval rating—a figure making it less popular than colonoscopies, used car salesmen, and lice. As it turns out, it is a lot easier to run for office when your living expenses are already footed by Uncle Sam.
The fact that there are Senators attempting to introduce term limits is warning enough. Clearly, there is a disease in Washington and they’re sounding the alarm about it, and what’s more, providing a solution. It would behoove us to trust the men voluntarily attempting to limit their own power in an attempt to help us.