Legislative service, playing politics, being a professional congressman, when did political office become a full time job? Up until the early 20th century, representatives have in large only served two terms in office. Serving in the legislative body for representatives has become a profession that has excluded itself from the community that has elected them. Does anything in the Constitution preclude term limitations? Our Founding Fathers did not include term limits when writing the Constitution. This could have been an oversight, and maybe it was deliberate. According to Jay Newton-Small, “When American democracy was being formed, many of its founders, including Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, supported congressional term limits, ‘to prevent every danger which might arise to American freedom by continuing too long in office the members of the Continental Congress,’ as Jefferson wrote”(Newton-Small 1). Setting term limits for public offices encourages popular participation, prevents politicians from acting solely to maintain rather than advance their offices, and helps prevent political corruption.
Term limits would make Congress more responsive to the people as a whole and their constituents who elected them. At one time politicians dreaded the thought of long service in office. According to Issit, “Term limits were originally conceived as a way to ensure that citizen representatives, rather than professional politicians, led the government. They were also designed to protect against the development of authoritarian regimes” (Issitt 1). If term limits for all federal offices are to be established, constitutional amendments will be necessary and will therefore require the support of two-thirds of the legislature in three-fourths of the states. “This makes the process of having term limits voted on by a majority almost impossible” (Sundquist).
In the early 1990's, referendums requiring congressional term limits were on the ballot in 23 states and voters overwhelmingly approved them in every one of those states. The Republican Contract with America in 1994 prominently featured term limits for members of the Senate to two-six year terms and members of the House to six-two year terms. As John Rosenthal from the Huffington Post states: the majority of career politicians in Congress did not vote to limit "their" terms and the corrupt "spoils system" continues (Rosenthal 1). Apart from the people’s concern to apply limits to Congress, voters doubtless are frustrated by the unwillingness of Congress even to address the question of term limitation. In fact, Congress’s overt antagonism toward term limitation, and practice of exempting itself from the laws it imposes on the people serves only to underscore the need to bring some humility to the institution.
However, those opposed to term limits point out that the election process itself provides a way for voters to get rid of ineffective or...