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Term Limits: What Should We Do About Them? [231*7]

Updated on November 26, 2014

To Limit Terms or Not Limit Terms; That Is The Question.

IN THE BRADFORD COUNTY TELEGRAPH, TIMES & MONITOR, my local weekly in Keystone Heights, FL,is a letter to the editor titled "Time to elect someone other than career politicians". The actual point of the letter is to garner support for the election of a 2016 non-politician Presidential candidate, Dr. Ben Carson, retired Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at John Hopkins Hospital. But, along the way, he makes several salient arguments, some of which I agree with and some of which I don't.

The points the letter writer made are as follows:

  1. "Much of the blame for the cliff this country is hurtling toward must be credited to career politicians ..."
  2. "... we the voters ... play a major role in this fiasco ..."
  3. "I am especially disenchanted with "lifetime" members ... from both Parties because of their refusal to step down ..."
  4. "... [which has led to what many call the Fourth Branch of Government. That would be special interest groups."

His conclusion, therefore, is

"Until term limits and/or curbs on financial donations are the law of the land, the wise thing for us to do would be to stop electing politicians and begin to elect teachers, merchants, engineers, doctors, etc ..."

Then he goes into his pitch for Dr. Carson.



My Letter To The Editor Back

I HAVE NEVER ACTUALLY WRITTEN A LETTER TO THE EDITOR before; it should be fun. But, what follows is the copy I will send it.

Dear Editor,

I read Mr. Young's letter with great interest and found myself agree with much of it, although I suspect we find ourselves on opposite sides of the political aisle. The parts that I do agree with are 1) American is hurtling toward a cliff; a day of reckoning is coming it would seem, 2) there is way too much money in politics and something must be done about it, 3) "lifetime" members aren't a good thing, and 4) it is the voters fault.

It doesn't sound like I disagree with anything, does it, but I do. I disagree with the presumption that it is the "career" politician that is the problem. I do not see it that way, and here is why. Would you want a dentist teaching your kids math in high school? Or, how about, a very experienced teacher operating on your daughter? They could certainly try, but how successful would they be at it?

In fact, based on a comment I received from a blog I wrote about this letter by a woman who watched this first-hand in her State's legislature, it can be counter-productive. From her front row seat, she watched, after those legislators with experience were "term limited" out, legal chaos ensued resulting from the inexperience of those who replaced them. The court system clogged up with cases resulting from their poorly written laws that more than ever catered to special interests. She says incidents of political corruption began to rise as well, including the Lt. Governor who just had to resign.

Further, I had the great privilege watch Congress in action from my perch across the Potomac when I was an analyst for the Air Force and OSD in and around the Pentagon. I found that Politics, at the national level is an extremely complex, arcane, esoteric and delicate operation where the technical, social, personal, legal, and political all have to be blended together to make law and policy with which to allow this Nation to function. All of this falls on Congress; not the President, who is designated to execute the will of Congress, or the Judiciary, who rules as to Constitutionality or to clarify. Consequently, it seems to me you do want a professional in this job who knows the ropes and how it is all supposed to work. For this job, you do not want, in my opinion, an untested teacher, physician, engineer, no matter how smart, willing, or capable.

I offer this is true at the State level as well, but less so. It is the job of local governments to groom would-be legislators and executives in the world of politics and bureaucracy (the vehicle for getting things done). It is the job of the voter to put the right people in all of these jobs and kick the ones out who aren't performing, something Mr. Young notes we are currently terrible at doing.

Also, we should be beating down the door and voting out of office any State legislator that supports gerrymandering and any national Congress person who won’t invoke the Constitutional authority to prohibit the same. The reason is having very diverse electoral districts almost guarantees high turnover in State and National legislatures. Finally, there needs to be a grassroots push to get the Congress to start a Constitutional Amendment process to once and for all make corporate, union, and PAC donations to political campaigns illegal.

Scott Belford

Keystone Heights, FL

So, What Did You Think?

SHOULD I PUBLISH IT OR NOT? Did I get my point across, I sure hope so.


Should There Be A Constitutional Amendment Banning Corporate, Union, and PAC Donations to Political Campaigns?

See results

Do You Think It Is Necessary That Most Congress Persons Be Professional Politicians at the National Level?

See results


Do you tend to lean to the

See results

© 2014 Scott Belford


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    • My Esoteric profile imageAUTHOR

      Scott Belford 

      5 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      "The state of the country is a direct result of the incumbents in congress, and we don't need term limits, we need more intelligent voters." - HURAH!!

      There is very little I disagree with in what you say. The only parts that I do involve me looking at the trees as well as the forest and analyzing the reasons for what has happened. I am not one of those "just give me the box score" type of people (INTPs never are); instead, I need to know why things worked out the way they did. I figure that way I can fix the part that's wrong rather than throw the baby out with the bathwater and start all over again recreating the wheel.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      My Esoteric

      I agree with your last sentence.

      I don't agree on who is at fault in congress.

      It has to be the incumbents, especially the nest incumbents.

      If they haven't been successful because of the opposition, then they failed.

      The state of the country is a direct result of the incumbents in congress, and we don't need term limits, we need more intelligent voters.

      An incumbent should run on their record, and not go through a full scale election campaign. They were either successful in meeting their previous election promises, or they were not. It is not meaningful, to come up with new promises that won't be met.

      If they blame the opposition then, they were ineffective in compromising. When the congress is in a fatal embrace of gridlock, allowing the president to be the de facto congress, then we need to send these congress people back to the private sector, and become one of us.

      The congress is a team, and it doesn't matter which players are losing the game, it is the game loss that is important.



    • My Esoteric profile imageAUTHOR

      Scott Belford 

      5 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Thanks for your thoughts, Theresa. I just wonder how much of your goal would be met by banning gerrymandering and a belated congratulations on your victory!

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 

      5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Both useful and interesting as always. I must say though that altho we don't need brand new untried people in congress I do think their should be some carefully designed term limits. Too short a term and politicians cannot do anything useful.

      But too long a term and they become so entrenched and powerful they are often not serving the people or addressing their. Just my opinion, not running for any office. Well ... I was once elected the Chair of the Faculty Senate at my University. :) Theresa

    • My Esoteric profile imageAUTHOR

      Scott Belford 

      5 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Nathan, I appreciate you reading this Hub and giving us your thoughts. The reason I think an Amendment is needed is because of "Citizens" and similar cases brought before or will be brought before the Supreme Court. The issue at hand is that corporations, and not by extension, PACs and Super PACs have a 1st Amendment right to free speech. I understand why corporations do for from way back in the early 1800s Congress and the Courts, for legal property rights reasons treated them as legal persons. That has morphed over time in corps being real persons, it seems. Since I haven't read the opinions, I don't know the logic behind the PACs picking up the privilege.

      There will always be a legal necessity for corporations to be treated as a legal person and Congress' attempts to reign in the political-money entanglements have run afoul of the 1st Amendment. Consequently, I think it is going to take another Amendment to untangle things.

    • My Esoteric profile imageAUTHOR

      Scott Belford 

      5 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Well, MizBejabbers, you just got added to my letter to the editor, or at least the jist of your comment did. Thank you very much for that real world insight.

    • Nathan Orf profile image

      Nathan Orf 

      5 years ago

      Good Hub, and you should send your letter to the editor. I agree that we should get money out of politics, but would a Constitutional amendment actually solve that problem? Wouldn't laws limiting how much money a corporate or political entity donates be effective? It is hard to see what kind of results would come from an amendment banning political contributions; the 18th amendment seemed good on paper to a lot of people, but in hindsight we understand how much of a mistake that was. Who knows what companies might do if they are banned from donating to political campaigns, and where they might spend all that extra money?

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James MizBejabbers 

      5 years ago from Beautiful South

      My Esoteric: In my state term limits have proven to be a fiasco. We had some long-term career politicians that got themselves into trouble, but prison took care of that – that and a couple of them died of old age. But someone got the bright idea thereafter to enact term limits. So far the result in a little over a decade was a tripling of the number of bills considered and acts passed. When that number topped out because of Constitutional time constraints, we have had a plethora – that’s oodles and gobs – of unconstitutional and special interest legislation passed. Our courts now are having to deal with the most blatant ones. Unless this is stopped, the courts will continue to have to deal with them.

      What I noticed the most as a legislative employee: When the first freshmen legislators came in, they had the old hands to guide them, but as the old timers got term-limited out, the conditions began to deteroriate. About midway through the phasing out, the newcomers stopped listening to the old timers. After all career politicians were gone, the squabbling of special interests began to prevail, and corrupt practices began anew. In the last year or so, we lost at least one legislator accused of misuse of campaign funds, and our lieutenant governor has just resigned amid the same accusation. Each is from a different party and both claim to be innocent. There has to be some grounds for the charges or these men would have not have been forced out. The question is, were their acts done deliberately or in ignorance because they were inexperienced?

      Okay, that’s just one state. However the state is a microcosm of the macrocosm. Is this a trend to come? I’m glad you tackled this subject near and dear to my heart. Voted you up++

    • My Esoteric profile imageAUTHOR

      Scott Belford 

      5 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      I agree that term limits aren't needed, nor were they built into the Constitution by our framers. Taking the money out of political elections will take a Constitutional amendment, is my opinion and personally, I don't care if politicians are rich. In fact, if you think about it, if they are really rich, getting more money may not be much of an incentive to them to change their vote.

      For sure, gerrymandering is the devil incarnate, but I think you are wrong about the Electoral College. I believe if you look deeply into it, the cure is worse than the bite.

      There use to be a much, much longer turn-around from office to K Street, but that is one of the things that fell by the way side during the Bush administration or when the Conservatives controlled the House in the Clinton years.

    • Aunt Jimi profile image

      Aunt Jimi 

      5 years ago from The reddest of the Red states!

      Not only are the wealthy, and especially corporations, buying the politicians for their own purposes, but we have gerrymandering. Gerrymandering can keep a particular party in the majority, or a particular politician in office for years, regardless of how people vote.

      I don't think we need term limits. I think we need to take the money out of politics and overturn the SCOTUS decision on Citizens United and organizations of that kind. If we take the money out of politics (currently 60% of our Congress members are millionaires and became millionaires since taking office) I think many career politicians will retire sooner on their own because there will be no money in it to stay.

      Further, no person who has held political office should be able to turn lobbiest for at least 10 years after they leave office. I don't know how long it is now without looking it up, but it's not long enough.

      Get rid of gerrymandering and the Electoral College. Neither serves the people or democracy. Limit the amount of money corporations can contribute to political organizations and campaigns. Take the money out and many politicians will themselves choose not to die in office of old age.

      Currently as of May 1995 term limits for either federal or state elected offices is unconstitutional. If everyone who qualifies to vote would do so and if we could get rid of gerrymandering, the election process would work much better and more like the Founding Fathers intended.

      I wish some members of Congress would execute themselves! Starting with Tom DeLay who is still walking around free.

    • My Esoteric profile imageAUTHOR

      Scott Belford 

      5 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      I agree, especially at the State level, and even more so if they voted for any sort of gerrymandering.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 

      5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Do your part to change the world: Don't reelect your congressman and senators. Only you can do it and that's about all you can do.

    • My Esoteric profile imageAUTHOR

      Scott Belford 

      5 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Hehe, this Congress doesn't execute anything other than themselves. But, anyway, that was the plan; it would be nice if it were allowed to work. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment Shyron.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 

      5 years ago from Texas

      My Esoteric, The President, who is designated to execute the will of Congress, you say?

      This one sickens me, because the Congress (at least the current one) does not execute the will of the people.

      It is the job of the voter to put the right people in all of these jobs and kick the ones out who aren't performing, something Mr. Young notes we are currently terrible at doing.

      This is impossible, when the filthy rich are buying ALL the elections.

      I do love you writing.


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