“…Maybe voting them all out won't work and most likely will hurt but you haven't convinced me that term limits are a bad thing. The pipe dream of people learning about positions of pols and how it effects the country and voting responsibly, while being something I would dearly love to see, is just that, a dream.”
I replied, in part that, due to the reams of existing regulations, regulatory agencies, laws and byzantine committees, sub committees and ad hoc committees... which are in place before a rep arrives in D.C., and which continue on during and after their terms have ended; not to mention the gazillion measures and bills striving for their attention, and the importance of knowing which influential person favors which… the 'legislator', especially the new representative, has to rely upon their aides who have experience in the capital, those who make up the local bureaucracy, to tell the new member who supports what, what he should support, and what he should oppose, and what it is that the bills themselves actually mean (their having grown too long to be able to bother with actually reading them(!)).
It is only through experience, favors done and returned, connections made, gained and strengthened over time, that a legislator can hope to get to the point that they can themselves begin to steer the course of their office and their vote.
If we pass a law to substitute for our vote, to override our ability to make an intelligent choice between candidates on our own; not only do we enshrine stupidity into the electoral process (not only will good and bad both be turned out, but even the possibility to make an intelligent decision between them will be ruled out), but the weak legislator will be replaced by even more powerless ones who have no possibility of attaining any significant understanding and influence of their own, and the result will be that those who 'aide' the process, career minded bureaucratic aides focused on their own long term futures, influence and power, will become even more needed by our ‘elected’ representatives, ever more relied upon and powerful, than they now are.
The elected representative, who can’t serve more than two terms, would become a mere figurehead, having not even the possibility of ever attaining actual power over the process.
In short, if you think it's bad now, while legislators and their aides still actually care about the results of elections, imagine what it will be like when those who have the actual power will have been permanently entrenched, and won't give a rat’s ass who wins.
The problem is NOT in the number of terms that our elected representatives are allowed to seek, it is in the existing regulations, regulatory agencies, laws and byzantine committees, sub committees and ad hoc committees, concerned with things congress has no constitutional authority to be concerned with, which We The People have allowed and even encouraged, to entrench itself in Washington D.C.; what allowed them to take root, what waters and fertilizes them and cross pollinates them, is the fact that we allowed our govt to interfere in the free enterprise system, to make ‘safe’ decisions for us, by law, so that we could shuck some of our own personal responsibility – a veritable dinner gong for the power hungry to rush towards the feeding trough.
Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, even more so than FDR, rang that dinner gong, and along with the complicit and instigating aid of proregressive legal minds such as Oliver Wendell Holmes, and ‘educators’ like Wilson, they established in our society and laws a pragmatic disdain for principle, a disregard for property rights, and a reverence and trust for x-spurts to regulate and supervise the market for us – to replace our own thoughts and choices, with their legal decrees.
No aid, no progress, is going to be made by replacing even more of our ability to choose, with more of their decrees.
Missing The Point
To this, ZZMike replied that
"The argument against term limits is that it takes a few years to "learn the ropes" and get really good at being a Congressman. So by the time you know which way is up, you're out.
The arguments for term limits are Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, maybe even Richard C. Byrd, and any number of people who've been there forever."
A common sentiment, but, IMHO, it is missing the real point by a long shot. It is not so much missing the forest for the trees, as missing the trees for the one tree you've got your face pressed up so close to, that the bark is getting stuck in your teeth.
Let me try it this way. I say that the 'no term limits' option is like continuing to taking a slow acting poison, while fighting for the 'enforce term limits' option is like taking lethal doses of cyanide. ZZMike and others take a narrow look at my position and argue that I've got the roles reversed, that it is instead the ‘no term limits’ position that is the lethal dose of cyanide, and ‘enforce term limits’ that is the slow acting poison.
Do you see what’s wrong with that picture? While on one hand I do think they are wrong, that Pelosi & Reid are not foul incumbents because they can win unlimited terms, but because they've enacted rules and regulations that do things like supply defacto financing for incumbents campaigns, through mailers and so forth... but on the other hand, that is missing the real point entirely!
What I'm arguing is, is that that is not the argument! My argument is that it is foolish to argue over which way you'd like to be poisoned, the real argument is that we must stop allowing ourselves to be poisoned at all! Period!
We need to realize that govt is the way it is, because we've allowed it to pass laws that are unreadable, and that subvert or circumvent the constitution, in order to 'make things safe' so we don't have to think for ourselves, so that we can avoid thinking for ourselves, so that each of us is, in light of some group we belong to (worker, consumer, investor, etc), too big and sacred to fail!
Rather than deciding to commit massive time and resources to what would certainly be a multiple year effort in order to pass a constitutional amendment to impose term limits, which at the very best, in my estimation, would only switch out the players while the same game continues on unabated; we should instead choose to commit massive time and resources to publicly examining what it is our constitution actually means (and a sufficient understanding is not that difficult to acquire), how current practices, rules, regulations and agencies are either a-constitutional or flat out un-constitutional, and so we should actively work towards electing representatives who will work towards repealing them brick by brick – and our time and vocal attentions should be focused on keeping a Tea Partyish political 'consumer reports' type eye upon them, holding their feet, and votes, to the fire.
It may indeed be difficult to accomplish this, but no other measure will work, certainly not term limits, they will only distract us from the real issue, and sink us deeper into the constitutional hole we are already in.
Sneaking A Peak
ZZMike also said that the Founders
"… also figured that someone would run for Congress, take time off from the family business (usually a farm), do his bit for a couple of years, then go back home and let somebody else have a shot at it."
At the risk of sounding too ‘Pie in the sky’, if we remove the unconstitutional agencies, rules, regulations and powers from the hands of our legislators, then they will again have a less complicated system and limited scope of concerns; concerns which will not support corrupt aims or opportunities to feather their nests more than their own farms and businesses would offer them, and they might again consider serving in congress to be a worthwhile duty and honor, instead of a long term desire for personal gain.
It is not limited or unlimited congressional and senatorial terms that corrupts politicians or attracts corrupt politicians; it is a system that has been recentered around a corruption of our constitutional republic. Allowing the Fed govt to wield its power in the free market, corrupts both the market and our Govt, and our Rights are trampled in the process.
The free market is based upon incentives, not guarantees; risks, actions and choices freely made, not forced upon them - a free government is based upon impartial laws defined and delimited by a Constitution, which defends the right of its citizens to choose freely.
A free Govt is based upon objective law: lady justice blindfolded, her scales weighing matters without favor or prejudice, in order to dispense Justice – her sword ready to defend the innocent and to punish the unjust.
When Govt and the Free Market intermingle, Lady Justice is made to peek beyond her blindfold, giving unjust favor to those which an influential lawmaker favors, and in turn, the market will use its wealth to invite, bribe and control, the favors of the government, which in turn will use it’s sword to force the market to ‘choose’ it’s favored desires.
The free market is based upon incentives, not guarantees; actions and choices freely made, not forced upon them - a free government is based upon impartial laws defined and delimited by a Constitution, which defends the right of its citizens to choose freely. Allowing the two to mingle, forces ‘choices’ upon us, and dissolves impartiality, and guarantees the corruption of both.
The "Safe Choice" Means No Choice
"As I remember, one of the reasons the Founding Geezers had Senators sit for longer terms than Representatives is so they wouldn't have to be so dependent on drumming up the vote."Yes they did... and the 1920's version of 'term limits' was a campaign finance reform that was to 'democratize' the Senate, that would put power 'in the hands of the people', a push for ‘hope and change!’… which was the 17th amendment. It took the election of Senators out of the hands of the locally elected State representatives – in direct opposition to one of the Founding Fathers most deliberately designed hierarchical features of our Constitution, that would ‘cool off’ the passions of the House, into nothing different than a more concentrated version of the House of Representatives with triple the length terms.
Even more than the 16th amendment (Income Tax, The Fed, etc), the 17th amendment has damaged our govt - almost beyond repair.
The Senate was designed to be a deliberative body, several arms lengths removed from the passions of the people, concerned with and answerable to the real concerns and interests of their States and the nation as a whole. Senators were to be elected by their state legislators, those locally elected representatives who were closest to the people themselves (closer even (by presumed district size) than those elected to the House of Representatives). These representatives who the Senators had to earn the votes of, would much more likely be known by, and know the real needs and concerns, of their constituents, and who would choose the best and most experienced representatives from among themselves, or some similarly person of competence and character.
This kept the Senate at several arms lengths from the rabid popular hue and cries of the moment. The popular whims and flash points of the day, which are so easily demagogued, was what the House of Representatives was designed to respond to – the Senate on the other hand, was to be a deliberative body, one which could serve as cooling off chamber, weeding out unwise, populist passions. And it could do so, because it didn’t need to curry favor from the populace, which would be consumed by those popular whims and flash points of the day, but from elected officials who knew the people, but also knew more about the issues themselves and were able to make cooler headed judgments, and see to it that Senators paid more mind to the real substantive concerns of their state. And because the Senate held terms of six years, it would need even less, to be concerned about those hot-button issues.
The 17th amendment was pushed through on similar populist grounds to today’s ‘reboot congress’ and ‘term limit’ mania, it rode a proregressive wave of 'throw the bums out' and 'make them more answerable to us!' demagoguery, spurred on by, ironically enough, corruption in Chicago Style Politics of Illinois, and promised hope and change for the People!
Predictably, what it in fact did, was make it almost guaranteed that Senators would have to mug for pictures, kiss babies and zoom around the state to be seen as much as possible, and heard saying less and less of substance, and worse, it made them answerable NOT to a handful of knowledgeable members of state legislators, who themselves were plugged into not only the peoples concerns, but the more valid concerns of the state as a whole - it made them have to sell themselves to passionate interest groups across the state, it made them have to stage huge campaigns, and it made it necessary for Senators to spend huge amounts of time catering to the whims of interest groups and those few who most influenced them – it guaranteed that no Senator could ever really know the constituents who would elect them - and vice versa.
Rather than give power to the people, it made them more anonymous and powerless.
The Real Point
The real point, is that a republic requires a carefully structured and delimited government rooted in and bound by a written constitution, representative of and answerable to, a moral, principled, people, who are not only willing to pay attention to the issues and carefully elect their representatives, but who understand that it is their duty as citizens, to do so.
Arguing that we are no longer that people, and so we must consume more and more poison, is an insane plan to restore the health of the Republic.
We must educate ourselves; we must encourage our neighbors to become educated as well. We must seek to remove the responsibility of educating our children, from those who are teaching them the exact opposite of what they need to know – the pragmatism (ala John Dewey, the founder of modern diseducation) – and return the responsibility of educating children to parents who will seek an education for them that is rooted in the principles our Founders understood, and which enabled them to write our Constitution.
That process cannot be shortened, the burden cannot be reduced, by legislating short cuts.
Think... or be prepared to be told what to think.