Arguments for and against term limits



Arguments for term limits

  • With term limits in place, Congress will be more responsible toward their constituents because they will soon be constituents themselves. They will have to live under the laws they have created while in office.
  • Members of Congress will have less time in office to develop financially beneficial commitments to lobbyists and other special interest groups, thereby undermining the threat of lobbyists being a primary influence on legislation.
  • Since the time of the Founding Fathers, a general consensus states that people, when given power, will eventually be corrupted by it. If Congress has term limits in place, their power will also be limited. Candidates will be more likely to run for the purpose of serving the people, and they would have to leave office before corruption dominates their decisions.
  • Congress is heavily entrenched in partisan politics, resulting in gridlock when trying to pass any legislation. If term limits were enacted, toeing the party line would be less important, as the need for re-election and holding onto party seats would no longer be the driving force behind most legislative decisions. Congress would have an easier time passing the legislation that would make a positive difference for the nation.
  • Money is a major factor in who will win an election. Incumbents have the benefit of the profits they made while in power — plus the backing of their party, contributing organizations and special interests — to get re-elected. However, these wealthy incumbents are often not the best person for the job, as they are so far-removed from the daily realities of the American people. A middle class person who better understands the problems facing the average citizen is highly unlikely to get elected over a wealthy incumbent. Term limits will help to eliminate the shady, profitable relationships between members of Congress and special interest groups, and therefore reduce the wealth gap between candidates. In turn, more qualified people will have a real opportunity to win elections.
  • Within Congress, most legislation is written by a committee that handles a specific duty or topic. Committee appointments can be very prized positions for the power, influence and financial backing that can be attained. These positions are often assigned based on political favors and a willingness to support causes or projects. Therefore, career politicians who have formed the most self-serving relationships can often be given the most power in Congress. Term limits would work to stop this cycle of political reward and power abuse. Committee assignments would be determined by merit and expertise, resulting in fair and informed decisions.

The arguments against term limits

Career politicians should be valued for their experience. If we regularly fill a Congressional office with a newcomer, we will lose the valuable experience on-the-job that person can offer in government.

  • On occasion, there may be a member of Congress that has fought for his constituents and resisted the corrupt system of power abuse that is considered normal on Capitol Hill. The Founding Fathers discussed the need for a “rotation of office.” When one’s terms are up in one office, that politician can run for another office (such as a member of the House running for Senator, Governor, etc.) and put their experience to use in other helpful ways.
  • The notion that only one person — the incumbent — can do the job well is absurd. Problematically, we continue to elect the incumbent because of name recognition and party affiliation rather than a proven track record. Realistically, there is usually someone just as qualified to take over the incumbent’s office.

Term limits are not necessary because members of Congress must be regularly re-elected. If they are not doing a good job in office, we can simply vote for someone else.

  • While this would happen in an ideal world, historically the incumbent is re-elected 90% of the time. The playing field is simply not level between incumbents and challenging candidates because of the ability to raise money. In 2010, the average incumbent in the House raised around $1.4 million, while the challengers averaged $166,000. In the same year, Senate incumbents averaged $9.4 million for each campaign, while challengers raised $519,000. With that incredible discrepancy, it is no surprise that the incumbent usually prevails. If a member of Congress is limited to one or two terms, the party itself and other major donors would not invest nearly as much in an incumbent, giving challengers a better chance of winning the race.

Term limits would give more power to bureaucrats and lobbyists.

  • This argument is based in the notion that incoming legislators will be entirely unqualified for their jobs and will be easily led astray by staff, bureaucrats, special interests, etc. The way the system works today suggests that the real problem is in longevity of office and the complacency that can come along with it. For instance, lobbyists invest heavily in long-term relationships with sitting legislators. Congress members currently shirk many responsibilities by delegating them to bureaucratic agencies.
  • Term limits have the potential to greatly reduce these problems. When more Congressional races are won by challengers from outside the Beltway, this change is likely to bring new staffers with new ideas into Washington, rather than recycling the same old corrupt insiders.

Term limits are unconstitutional.

  • Clearly this is not the case, as the President of the United States is limited to two terms because of a Constitutional Amendment. A 28th Amendment would be necessary to impose term limits for Congress, and that is precisely what we are seeking. Since Congress will not willingly do so on their own, it is imperative that Americans make their voice heard on this issue.


13 responses to “Arguments for and against term limits”

  1. […] Here is an excellent argument for term limits: Arguments for and against term limits May 30, 2014 Bob Weeks Leave a comment From Arguments for term […]

  2. Cameron Uehling

    Ok first off you have some decent reasons for term limits but your entire against it stupid. You are very clearly showing a bias here, the name Arguments for and against term limits is a blatant lie. It should be called arguments for and no real arguments against because I don’t give any.

  3. Alex

    Change the title of your article because it is clearly a mislead. You have arguments against term limits followed immediately by your “debunking” of them. I get it. I think we need term limits as well but I am doing a research paper on this subject and your blatant trolling just wasted 5 minutes of my life.

  4. Charly LaBelle

    I like the idea of term limits for the senate. Have them limited the same as president”two terms” The graft the lying and the grid lock will end and so will becoming a wealthy worthless no nothing underhanded ass will also be diminished .
    It was not supposed to be a Carear job, let was set up for a person to serve and get their ideas out and then leave, “not a place to acquire money and power”. As it is now its just a great big slush fund for a few and screw the public.

  5. This article presents some good arguments, though some are redundant & the same argument point articulated in a slightly different way. My biggest objection is it’s highly biased & not a fair comparison of the pros & cons. It completely ignores the biggest argument against term limits – a term limit imposes a fed mandate on the people. It takes away the right of the people in a state or district to chose who they want to represent them. We need fresh blood & we get it, but to eliminate our senior statesman may be a problem – senior statesman who have gained stature are needed in a congress whose powers are continually threatened by an over-reaching executive branch.

  6. Donald John Trump


  7. […] from the corruption of deluded politicians is term limits. Voice For Liberty in Wichita gives arguments for and against term limits. America’s Quarterly asserts that Term Limits can Check Corruption and Promote Political […]

  8. Andre Brody

    There most definitely needs to be term limits. Our forefathers never intended a congressional or senate seat to become a career whereby people are using it to make money and get re-elected at the expense of doing anything worth while for the people. Far too many are now criminals, taking the oath of office knowing full well they do not intend to uphold and protect the constitution but rather just the opposite, like the dictator, Obama

  9. I think that there shouldn’t be terms, they should be able to server as long as they want. That is if they are doing a good job and that they want too keep going. It costs way to much to elect when they said 90% of the time they just get re-elected.

  10. Student

    Hey, this article makes some good points, but the title is misleading. It’s more, “arguments for term limits and arguments against arguments against term limits”You might want to add a source list for it as well, because people citing it probably want to know where you got your information.

  11. Jeremy

    Unfortunately, research has proven that the turnover rate in states with term limits has taken the expertise out of politics. This expertise takes time to acquire and is required so that the same mistakes will not be made that previous legislatures have made.
    Term limit claims have been made that it will bring new people and ideas, and while it has brought in a grinder of new people, the system favors people with local and municipal experience, over innovative ideas from scholars, business people, and others from different walks of life. In the end, term limits haven’t proven to fix any of the claims outside of getting entrenched politicians out, which may or may not be a good thing.

  12. […] Voters cite gridlock and partisan politics as the prevailing reasons for why they disapprove of Congress. Term limits can provide the answer to both problems. Gridlock occurs as a result of members prioritizing party loyalty over making a decision based on the merits of the legislation under question. Members often do so because they hope to maintain a good relationship with party leadership so that they can be in an advantageous position to receive funding and support from the party come election time. With term limits implemented, there would thus be less incentive for individual members to toe the party line. […]

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