Serving in Washington Should Be an Honor, Not a Lifestyle

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

As Congress continues to grow increasingly out of touch with the American people, especially with Sen. Debbie Stabenow saying her wallet is immune to gas prices because of her electric vehicle, it’s a friendly reminder that federal term limits are deeply necessary.

While some states experimented with term limits for their congressmen from 1990 to 1995, that state-level action was shot down in U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton, according to Thought Co.

Still, the mindset surrounding Washington, with everyone from elected officials to low-level staffers, needs to change. For starters, congressional term limits are wildly popular, with 80 percent of voters supporting a cap through a constitutional amendment, according to a March 2021 McLaughlin and Associates poll.

There was a push by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and other Senate Republicans to cap serving in the House to three two-year terms and the Senate with two six-year terms. Of course, the effort was unsuccessful, because congressmen would need to essentially be voting away their own individual power.

Cruz said in a press release at the time:

“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.”

It’s obvious that the more time a politician spends in Washington, the more aloof they become from the actual concerns of Americans. For example, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has been walking the halls of Congress since 1987, and in case anybody was wondering, San Fransico probably looks a lot different than it did when she took office during the Reagan administration. The aforementioned Stabenow took office in 2001, and President Joe Biden served in the Senate for a whopping 36 years beginning in 1973.

Sorry, that’s not called gaining expertise, it’s called institutional slothfulness.

Outside of elected officials on Capitol Hill, there needs to be a shift in mentality with those who work for the government in the Beltway, too. Self-imposed term limits, of sorts, for those who serve in a political capacity. They do not need to have a fancy title to become disassociated with the interests of average, hard-working Americans.

If one does not view their public service as a delicate honor, it’s easy for them to forget the real reason why they should be there. The United States has amazing talent in the private sector, so being a political staffer or elected official should be a brief departure from that work and seen as a privilege– not a permanent career path.

Fresh faces usually bring fresh ideas, and they ultimately help innovate the United States out of complicated challenges. It’s true that’s there a learning curve for lawmakers to get adjusted to the public sector, especially for congressmen, which is why there is a healthy window of time between knowing the ropes and not getting too comfortable.

In other words, the swamp needs to become a revolving door.


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