Time for Term Limits?

     The news of the week is the considered U.S. House of Representatives trial on ethics charges of Charles Rangel (D) of the 15th District of New York.  It seems Mr. Rangel is accused of the famous old crime of using U.S mailing privileges for private concerns, running multiple rent control apartments in abeyance of the law, failing to report rental property income on off shore properties to the tune of $600,000, and coercing donors into giving to the Charles Rangel School of Public Service at City College of New York, among other violations. Mr. Rangel, 80 years old,  has now served 40 years in congress.  This unfortunately makes him only the fourth longest serving member, with David Obey(D) of  7th Wisconsin at 42 years determining to retire this year, John Conyers(D) 14th Michigan at 45 years, and the estimable John Dingell (D) of 15th Michigan coming in at, you heard it right, 56 years in the house of representatives.  These terms have been served consecutively, and these gentlemen have been immune to re-election risks. 

     The Senate has been no better, with the recent Lion of the Senate, Ted Kennedy(D) of Massachusetts, at 46 years, and the Master of the Senate, Robert Byrd(D) of West Virginia at 57 years, requiring the ultimate term limit to achieve removal.  Waiting in the wings is Senator Daniel Inouye(D) of Hawaii, only 50 years of continuous governing. In fact 42% of its members who have served 20 years or more in what was once looked on as a period of public service in an otherwise private life.  The Congress of the United States has become a career.

     I am sure all these gentlemen are , or have been, worthy servants of their populus, but are these the giants we need to stand on the shoulders of the founding fathers?  Is it feasible that after 40 years in a profession, or at 80 years of age or greater, you still have your finger on the pulse of societal change, the direction the country needs to go, the investments and priorities it needs to put forth?  The man considered the greatest historical congressman of our democracy, Senator Daniel Webster of Massachusetts, managed to fashion greatness in the wells of congress for 29 years – well, congressmen didn’t live that long in those days.  Except that he imposed his own term limits twice and did not serve consecutively, finding other contributions to make with his oratorical skills. 

     It is no small consideration that all these gentlemen are from one party. The stasis and idea decay are becoming profound.  I suggest we look again at the state level of reducing the number of feasible consecutive terms and give some individuals who might have some new ideas a try.  I don’t think honestly we are likely going to miss all this “experience”.

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3 Responses to Time for Term Limits?

  1. Tom Weber says:

    AMEN! I couldn’t agree more. This one complicated act of “setting the timer” on these career politician’s addiction to wallow in the trough of tax money you and I afford them could potentially restore OUR Congress to the vision our founding fathers had. I am so nauseated when the press praises these hogs like Kennedy for “serving” our nation. The only serving they do consists of putting the silver spoon in their own mouth. Only our military boys and girls serve our country, putting their own life on the line everyday to protect our homeland and its citizens here and abroad, not to mention the helpless millions of other people who have no heroes of their own. I can only pray we elect a renegade someday to propose term limits and an angry nation of voters backs them enough to get it passed. Sure, it would be political suicide to vote into law a bill that guarantees your job will end in 8 or 12 years, but then maybe, just maybe, these “representatives” would vote on things that make sense to help their contstituents, not just bolter their chances of being re-elected. Why can’t someone like Scott Brown, who just broke into the Lion’s den, really take it to the next level? Don’t trade in your pickup for a limo and go back home in 12 years! Let someone else, eager and fresh carry the torch for you instead of putting on pound after pound cash-laden cellulite the lobbyist want to wrap you in. The idea of a revolution is scary to most of us, but remember, from the ashes there arises new life and new liberty….

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