82% of Americans support term limits – This includes 89% of Republicans, 76% of Democrats, and 83% of Independents (McLaughlin 2018). It is the most popular and most bipartisan issue in America.
Restores a citizen legislature – With term limits, there would be no more squatting in an office for 30, 40 or 50 years. The framers did not intend career politicians. They wanted people from all walks of life who could serve for a short time and come home to live under the laws they made. They wanted rotation in office. Term limits would accomplish it. It would deliver fresh faces and ideas.
Demolishes the seniority system – Washington is run in a top-down structure where seniority equals influence. Even if we vote in better members, they are still buried under the power of Pelosi and Schumer. Term limits would replace seniority with a merit system.
Address the incumbent advantage – Term limits make elections more winnable and competitive by tackling the advantage of the incumbent. Open seat races give voters more options.
Fixes Congress – Right now members are only thinking about how to get re-elected, by pandering to special interests. They spend more time fundraising than doing their jobs. Term limits would change this culture and make members focused on solving problems.
Frustrates Lobbyists – There are 12,000 lobbyists in DC and they all hate the idea of term limits. They never want to lose access to their favored members. Term limits would sever these ties with special interests.
Increases Voter Turnout – Term limits increase voter turnout. More candidates knocking doors and campaigning bring more voters to the polls.
COMMON ARGUMENTS AGAINST TERM LIMITS:
Term limits take away experience – As Ronald Reagan said, the only experience you get in politics is how to be political. The problem with Congress is, we have too much political experience and not enough from the real world. A physician has a better handle on healthcare policy than a career politician, or a teacher has a better handle on education policy, and so on. Term limits would give people with real world experience the chance to serve and make an impact.
Legislative term limits have failed in states where they’ve been adopted – The data shows us that most states where term limits have been passed — like Florida — have very high scores for fiscal health. They are performing well. While many states run by professional politicians, like Illinois — are deeply in debt. But my focus is really on Congress. This would have a much bigger impact at the federal level, because unlike most state legislators, members of Congress are all full-time professional politicians. They have no other jobs. They live away from their constituents and grow out of touch.
Term limits would empower lobbyists – Lobbyist get their power from their connections and relationships. Term limits break up those connections and relationships. When we follow the money, we see that lobbyists everywhere oppose term limits. In term limits campaigns, they always donate to the side trying to prevent or abolish term limits. If they stood to benefit, the opposite would be true. Lobbyists oppose term limits because term limits threaten their relationships with incumbents. Jack Abramoff, the mega-lobbyist, once said that lobbyists hate term limits because a politician who stays in power for life is “worth his weight in gold.”
Term limits would empower bureaucrats – Washington DC is the biggest bureaucracy on planet earth, in terms of spending: 2.5 million federal employees; 20% of GDP. That was created by career politicians, not term limits. Career politicians need to answer for why they have empowered bureaucrats. When we look at DC, it is the newer and younger members who are pushing back against this stuff…while the longer tenured members have been rubber stamps.
We have term limits it’s called elections – This sounds good in theory, but in reality, incumbents have stacked the deck. If you’re an incumbent, you get free media coverage, name ID, and money (90% of PAC money goes to incumbents). As a result, less than 10% of all congressional elections are truly competitive. On average, 95% of incumbents get re-elected. Term limits would give us more choice at the ballot box because when seats are open, more candidates run.
OUR REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENT IS IN CRISIS (THE PRINCETON STUDY):
Our founding fathers sacrificed greatly to give us a government “dependent on the people alone,” and we are in danger of losing that vision.
Because of this broken system, our lawmakers are forced to become telemarketers, spending up to 75% of their time fundraising, and preparing for their next election instead of serving the people. This results in political outcomes that are disconnected from the will of the people, and subject to lobbyist and special interest control.
A Princeton study found that there was zero correlation between what the American people supported for legislation over the last 40 years, and what Congress passed as law. However, there was a strong correlation to what the wealthy elites and special interests wanted, and what Congress passed.
WHY 3-2 (three house, two senate) Terms
It’s what the people want. Voters want term limits that stop congress from being a career. People view over 6 years as a career not time away from a career to serve.
Political donations change over time. First election most candidates put in a large chunk of their own money and get lots of funding from in district. Second election (re-election) most candidates put none of their own money, less comes from in district and much more of their funding comes from big national special interests. Third time less in district and more special interest money. After 3 terms outside funds dwarf funds raised in district.
In 1994 Republicans paid lip service to term limits in, The Contract With America. Then they strategically split support between several term limits resolutions. This allowed them to go home and claim they voted for term limits with the knowledge there was no risk of passing term limits. To defend against this, U.S. Term Limits insists candidates sign the 3-2 amendment pledge.