Why Republicans Should Oppose Term Limits

 

Today, Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) introduced a bill that would impose a six-year term limit on members of the House, while Senators would be held to 12 years in office. This is a magnificently stupid idea.

I worked on Capitol Hill for eight years back in the ’90s and early 2000s. I came into the job right before the 1994 elections and saw the incoming Republican majority as an opportunity for me and my ilk to do our part to re-make a Constitutional government. Like most Republican staffers on the Hill, I was bright, but young and laughingly inexperienced. As a result, I got my rear kicked day after day by my Democrat counterparts.

You see, Republican staffers on Capitol Hill see the job as a stepping stone to bigger and more lucrative careers, whether it be as a lobbyist or, more often, somewhere else in the private sector. They serve in the office for a few years and then head off for greener pastures. But a Democrat staffer sees the job as the culmination of their mission in life. They love cultivating the government leviathan of their wildest dreams, and you’d have to pry their jobs from their cold, dead hands. When it comes to negotiating bills or working a bill through the system, experienced Democrat staffers know all the tricks and look at unproven Republican staff as raw meat to be chewed up and spit out.

Why does this matter? Look to my home state of California for the answer. It’s a horribly run state and the blame falls squarely on term limits. Voters passed a proposition that limits members’ services to a total of 12 years in either house, or a combination of the two. As a result, members of our Senate and especially the Assembly are often green and rely too heavily on their staff for guidance and advice. These professional staffers are glad to fill the knowledge void left when more experienced members are forced to retire. In that case, you can count on Democrat “lifer staff” to beat Republican “stepping stone” staff every time.

If you want the federal government to far further into dysfunction, go ahead, copy California. Leave the running of the country to wizened old Democrat staffers who know how to win the game every time. I know term limits seems like a great idea, but it just doesn’t work in practice.

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  1. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    The only term limits I support are on chief executives.

    • #1
  2. Simon Templar Inactive
    Simon Templar
    @SimonTemplar

    I beg to disagree.

    • #2
  3. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    Governing shouldn’t be so complex that it takes years to master it. Our problem is the complexity of the machine, not the individual parts.

    • #3
  4. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    What are we to do about career criminals in  politics who need to be voted out but never will be ( Harry Reid).  I’m in favor of execution but will accept term limits.

    • #4
  5. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    DocJay:What are we to do about career criminals in politics who need to be voted out but never will be ( Harry Reid). I’m in favor of execution but will accept term limits.

    You lose good politicians with the bad.  You also further empower unelected bureaucrats, so I’m not sure what we gain on the net.

    • #5
  6. Klaatu Inactive
    Klaatu
    @Klaatu

    Amen!!!

    I have never understood the fascination with term limits. They are anti-republican and would only serve to empower the bureaucracy.

    • #6
  7. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Haven’t done so well locally here in Michigan. It just means attempts at Putin-Medvedev moves. They usually fail, and then the other side takes over.

    • #7
  8. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    Frank Soto:

    DocJay:What are we to do about career criminals in politics who need to be voted out but never will be ( Harry Reid). I’m in favor of execution but will accept term limits.

    You lose good politicians with the bad. You also further empower unelected bureaucrats, so I’m not sure what we gain on the net.

    Criminals( all career politicians)  are a bigger threat than unelected bureaucrats IMO.

    • #8
  9. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    Frank Soto:

    DocJay:What are we to do about career criminals in politics who need to be voted out but never will be ( Harry Reid). I’m in favor of execution but will accept term limits.

    You lose good politicians with the bad. You also further empower unelected bureaucrats, so I’m not sure what we gain on the net.

    And unicorns. Don’t forget the harm to the unicorns.

    • #9
  10. user_357321 Inactive
    user_357321
    @Jordan

    Sounds like we really need term limits on staffers.

    • #10
  11. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    I like the Federation Member Republic of Venus’ solution, just indict any politician who loses an election for corrupt practices.

    • #11
  12. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    I like Head Ripping Off Machines.  So fast, so perfect, so cool.

    Arahant:I like the Federation Member Republic of Venus’ solution, just indict any politician who loses an election for corrupt practices.

    The corruption in our system has destroyed us.  Our morality as a nation is crap and our leaders are criminal scum.  There is no system in place to address these criminals.  None will exist short of term limits.

    • #12
  13. David Knights Member
    David Knights
    @DavidKnights

    Term limits are desperately needed.  The argument you make above is unrelated to the question of term limits. The issue raised by your example above is an argument for why we need a VASTLY smaller central government, not an argument against term limits.

    • #13
  14. Johnny Dubya Inactive
    Johnny Dubya
    @JohnnyDubya

    Had there been 12-year term limits when Joe Biden was elected to the Senate, he would have finished his dozen-year stint around the time that “We Are The World” entered the charts.

    • #14
  15. Klaatu Inactive
    Klaatu
    @Klaatu

    There is no system in place to address these criminals.

    Elections??

    • #15
  16. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    DocJay:I like Head Ripping Off Machines. So fast, so perfect, so cool.

    Arahant:I like the Federation Member Republic of Venus’ solution, just indict any politician who loses an election for corrupt practices.

    The corruption in our system has destroyed us. Our morality as a nation is crap and our leaders are criminal scum. There is no system in place to address these criminals. None will exist short of term limits.

    Politics being downstream of culture is what really scares me. You were correct in the order of “our morality as a nation is crap and our leaders are criminal scum.” My only addition would be to add therefore before “our leaders.”

    • #16
  17. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    Klaatu:There is no system in place to address these criminals.

    Elections??

    Wrong.

    • #17
  18. Arsenal Inactive
    Arsenal
    @Arsenal

    David Knights:Term limits are desperately needed. The argument you make above is unrelated to the question of term limits. The issue raised by your example above is an argument for why we need a VASTLY smaller central government, not an argument against term limits.

    This is the relationship: You’ll be far less likely to get a vastly smaller government if you have term limits.

    • #18
  19. Klaatu Inactive
    Klaatu
    @Klaatu

    Doc, just because you do not like the results of the system does not mean the system doesn’t exist.

    • #19
  20. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    DocJay:

    Klaatu:There is no system in place to address these criminals.

    Elections??

    Wrong.

    Patrick Henry agrees:

    We fought then for what we are contending for now–to prevent an arbitrary deprivation of our property, contrary to our consent and inclination. I shall be told in this place that those who are to tax us are our representatives. To this I answer, that there is no real check to prevent their ruining us. There is no actual responsibility. The only semblance of a check is the negative power of not reëlecting them. This, sir, is but a feeble barrier, when their personal interest, their ambition and avarice, come to be put in contrast with the happiness of the people.

    • #20
  21. user_88846 Member
    user_88846
    @MikeHubbard

    California was also a mess before term limits—remember the self-declared Ayatollah of Sacramento, Willie Brown? The problem isn’t the politicians but the career civil servants. Getting rid of civil service’s job security would make government more accountable. Yes, it would mean bringing back the spoils system. I say we try making it easier to fire civil servants in some states and see what happens. Right now, even if we elected a completely new House of Representatives, a new president, and one third of the Senate, the vast majority of the federal government would be unchanged and unfireable. The federal bureaucracy is conservative in the actual sense of the word “conservative” rather than “right of center,” because it resists all change.

    I’m actually for term limits in elected office because it encourages voters to throw out bums rather than reelect a bum with seniority. But civil service jobs attract the dead end mediocrities: smart enough to game a system, but not capable of earning real money in the private sector. Government needs bright people, and it needs a way to remove deadwood. Reform the civil service.

    • #21
  22. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    Klaatu:Doc, just because you do not like the results of the system does not mean the system doesn’t exist.

    The system is corrupt and non fixable.  The system encourages corruption and ensures the survival of corrupt incumbents.

    Term limits are the only answer short of violence.

    • #22
  23. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    DocJay:What are we to do about career criminals in politics who need to be voted out but never will be ( Harry Reid). I’m in favor of execution but will accept term limits.

    My wood chipper is accumulating too many layers of paint. “DJ Chipper” is barely dry and now I’ve got to rename it “Term Limit.”

    • #23
  24. Johnny Dubya Inactive
    Johnny Dubya
    @JohnnyDubya

    Most CEOs of large companies are given only a few years to make their mark.  (Of course, there are exceptions such as Steve Jobs.)  It should be the same for legislators.  If you can’t do some good in six or twelve years, then maybe you can’t do any good and it’s time for a change.

    If the Founders had known how entrenched some legislators would become, notwithstanding being subjected to periodic elections, they would have created term limits.  This idea is right and proper from a conceptual standpoint: Citizen-legislators should serve and then return to normal society.  It is wrong to base the decision on whether or not to institute term limits on strategic, political considerations such as the relative power and experience of congressional staffs.

    • #24
  25. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    Klaatu:Doc, just because you do not like the results of the system does not mean the system doesn’t exist.

    Also consider who is doing the electing. This limits the damage of our electorate more than the politicians.

    • #25
  26. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Sounds like a plea for term limits for political staffers.

    • #26
  27. Nanda Panjandrum Member
    Nanda Panjandrum
    @

    Term limits – like those described by Rep. DeSantis – seem eminently sensible to me.  The available terms would be long enough for one to learn the ropes and, presumably, get something done; while discouraging the career politician model in place now, perhaps?

    • #27
  28. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    Barfly:

    DocJay:What are we to do about career criminals in politics who need to be voted out but never will be ( Harry Reid). I’m in favor of execution but will accept term limits.

    My wood chipper is accumulating too many layers of paint. “DJ Chipper” is barely dry and now I’ve got to rename it “Term Limit.”

    My chipper yearns for corrupt incumbent flesh.

    Those who support the system have little concept of the consequences of not fixing it.  We will see targeted assassinations ( with increasing police state) this century without political reform.

    • #28
  29. Klaatu Inactive
    Klaatu
    @Klaatu

    The system is corrupt and non fixable. The system encourages corruption and ensures the survival of corrupt incumbents.

    If the system is corrupt, how will term limits fix it? Would we not use the same system to elect someone else?

    • #29
  30. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    Our public would vote en masse for term limits.  Our country needs a giant enema not some mild fiber.

    • #30
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