Term Limits: A Libertarian Perspective

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Term limits: a buzz word (at best) for those sick of the same politicians doing NOTHING and making a large sum of money doing it (at our expense).

The case for term limits is strong. We literally wrote an entire amendment (the 22nd to be specific) to our Constitution regarding how many terms our president can have.

For those of you who go to public school (not your fault) I will give you a brief history lesson as to why we limit how many times one can be elected to the office.

Franklin D Roosevelt is the only president to be elected four times; dying in office during his fourth term. Shortly thereafter, in order to keep any one president from amassing that much power and influence, Congress proposed the amendment in 1947 and it was ratified by 36 states on February 27th, 1951.

Good reason, eh? So why not for congress?

Here, I would like approach the whole idea of term limits from one simple point of view; does it increase or decrease individual liberty and does it grow government?

First question is simple: if a populous keeps electing someone, doesn’t that mean they want him/her in office? Isn’t this why we shouldn’t have term limits?

At first glance I would agree.

But, the senator or representative sent to Washington by the great state of Texas can have a direct effect on people in my home state of Vermont. This muddies the previous point. But it doesn’t necessarily negate it.

The second question is a bit trickier: how many terms should be allowed?

Senators have six year terms, Representatives have two year terms. If elected to two terms, a senator would have twelve years to turn his agenda into law, I think that is more than enough time.

Representatives are different though. They complete one campaign and within a year they are back at it for reelection. This perpetual chase for votes can’t possibly leave much time for writing decent and concise laws. A longer allotment of terms may not help that as much as giving representatives longer terms, but I would still advocate a bigger number for them (I would suggest six terms).

This writers opinion: if term limits are enacted, it should be at the local/state level – not the federal level!

If decreasing government is the goal of libertarians and conservatives, I fail to see how having a federal law regarding term limits achieves said goal.

Just like I don’t want the border policy of California to influence how we handle the border in Vermont, I don’t want the opinions on term limits of the people of Ohio to influence my state either.

We have seen (on more than one occasion) that having the federal government blanket-legislate something rarely works to the effect of freedom and liberty.

We also need to trust municipalities and localities to figure out the best solutions to their most pressing problems: if that includes their elected representatives than I think it is best left to them.

One thing is for sure. As a man who’s senators have been in office since before I was born almost 36 years ago, something has GOT to change (because so far, nothing has).

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