The Case for Term Limits
By Matthew Lang 12/17/10
Almost every American citizen, whether Republican or Democrat, wants more honest and efficient politicians. Term limits for the United States legislative branch would help this cause by creating an equal playing field that motivates congressmen to vote based on principles and fiscal responsibility. With term limits, the reelection rate would fall to fifty percent, and a meritocracy system would replace the current seniority system. Term limits make a fair congress in which members work efficiently on bills to benefit citizens and not special interest groups.
Term limits create a citizen congress, that is, a congress consisting of ordinary citizens rather than of the elite. Currently, the longer someone serves in Congress, the more power that person gains because of a seniority system that allows longer-serving congressmen to obtain powerful positions more easily than other congressmen. Voters tend to elect congressmen in powerful positions because they and other incumbents have many advantages over their challengers. Incumbents have campaigning experience, familiar names, and free publicity, whereas their challengers have less campaigning experience, unfamiliar names, and no free publicity. Incumbents’ greatest advantage is money. A study by Common Cause shows that, on average, Congressional challengers spend about 35% of what incumbents spend. For these reasons, voters reelect over ninety percent of incumbents every year, creating many long-serving congressmen. The seniority system forms an almost never-ending loop in which longer-serving congressmen gain power, win reelection easily, and then gain more time in Congress and more power. Sometimes the loop ends only when the congressman dies or resigns. Because of this system, forty-two members of the 111th Congress had served thirty years or more. In a term-limited congress, no one would serve in a powerful position for long. Congressmen...