Term Limitations: Restoring Trust In Congress

2082 words - 8 pages

   The United States Congress is the most powerful legislative body in the world. The capitol dome should bring pride to every American as a symbol of the just and efficient system of government we have devised for ourselves. Congress however has fallen from grace. Scandal, egotism and horrific management of the nation's resources have obliterated the trust Americans once had for those they elected. The Congress must now make huge and positive steps toward healing the rift they have created. I feel the first step should be a Constitutional amendment limiting the number of terms a member of Congress may serve.


The idea of term limits in America was first discussed during the framing of the constitution as one of the fifteen resolutions in the Virginia plan. It was in this debate that George Mason from Virginia stated "Elected representatives should be subject to periodical rotation. For nothing so strongly impels a man to regard the interest of his constituents as the certainty of returning to the general masses of the people from whence he was taken and where he must participate in their burdens" ( quoted by Christensen). Mason's argument for term limits was compelling at the time. However term limits were considered a matter of "detail" and not suitable for inclusion in the fundamental law of the country. The rejection of term limits was correct at the time of the framing because it was a limitation on the freedom of Americans, and no excision of freedom should be taken lightly, no matter how small. However, the founders never envisioned the evolution of the political careerist or the destruction such an animal could afflict on the republic. Term limits are clearly a necessary reform for the restoration of the United States Congress.


The government that the framers created for America is based on a set of institutions and a process of representation. The communal sense of America is developed through deliberative reasoning which citizens partake in through their representatives. These representatives need to express the character and posses the same values as those they represent. In this sense the idea of being a professional representative is ambiguous. Professionalism at any pursuit entails a distinction between the professional and those they serve. This is obviously a harmful trait to the representative process. However this is not the strongest argument for term limits in America since we are a society who strives for professionalism in every talent.


The best evidence for the need of Term Limits is an examination of the problems of Congress and the reasons Congress in unable to pull itself out of the miserable state it has been in for the past forty years.


The rise of careerism began after the New Deal in the 83rd Congress (1953-55).


Since 1955, incumbents have been reelected 79% of the time and the number of representatives serving four or more terms have risen from 55% to 69%. The...

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