Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A case for Term limits

As I write this blog post this morning the United States government is still on shutdown and we are only days away from the Federal Government hitting the debt ceiling yet again. President Obama has repeatedly said over the past few weeks that raising the debt ceiling is not raising the debt of the nation. If it really is not then we should never have to raise the debt ceiling. Over the weekend I purchased a book - yes an actual hardcover book - The Liberty Amendments by Mark Levin.

The premise of the book is a look at a series of proposed Amendments to the United States Constitution to bring us back in line to intent of our nation forged by the Founding Fathers. The fact that we are under a shutdown and dealing with $17 trillion is debt illustrates that our Federal system of government has become too centralized and beaucratic.

Over the course of the next several weeks I'd like to take each Amendment proposed by Mark Levin and discuss it hear. The original post, as all my posts, are to be a starting point of conversation. My blog is not an echo chamber.

Mark Levin's first proposed Amendment deal with establishing term limits on members of Congress:

Section 1: No person may serve more that twelve years as a member of Congress, whether such service is exclusively in the House or the Senate or combined in both Houses.

Section 2: Upon ratification of this Article, any incumbent member of Congress whose term exceeds the twelve-year limit shall complete the current term, but thereafter shall be ineligible for further service as a member of Congress

For much of my life I rejected the notion of term limits being placed on elected officials, outside of the President of the United State, but with greater observation of what transpires in Washington D.C. my leanings tend toward limiting the time of those seeking office. In the beginning of our nation, holding office was seen as a service to our fellow citizens and at some point along the way those elected to office would return to private life.

Mark Levin, page 11-12, illustrates this by quoting Benjamin Franklin, "It seems to have been imagined by some that the returning to the mass of the people was degrading the magistrate. This he thought was contrary to republican principles. In Free Governments the rulers are the servants and the people their superiors & sovereigns. For the former therefore to return among the latter was not to degrade but to promote them. And it would be imposing an unreasonable burden on them, to keep them always in the State of servitude, and not allow them to become again one of the Masters."

In the 21st Century, and I'd argue for the better half of the 20th Century, those seeking political office do not see the "mass of people" as their superiors; rather they see them as their serfs. I know I paint a broad brush with that last statement but why else do 20 year Congress members feel justified in seeking another term? Granted turnover may not bring about the change one desires but knowing that the knucklehead in office can only be there for 12 years at the most gives us assurances that a bad apple doesn't have enough time to take root.