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Term Limits for All 4 Branches of Government
We can never get money out of politics, but this doesn’t mean we can’t reduce DC’s corruption and incompetence.
The primary way to do this is via reducing DC’s power and complexity, but a secondary method is to impose term limits.
George Washington’s two-term presidential precedent held up until FDR.
The violation of term limits is strongly correlated with the eroding of democracy and human rights.
After FDR died in office, both parties were sufficiently horrified by the prospect of a future dictatorship that they came together to pass the 22nd Amendment, which limits presidents to two terms.
The longer a person holds a position the harder it is to remove them, especially when that position is the most powerful in the world.
Legislators however don’t have executive power so they can’t use force as easily to corrupt the vote and our checks and balances.
But as John Adams wrote to Thomas Jefferson, “You are apprehensive of monarchy; I, of aristocracy.”
It’s increasingly clear to both sides of the political aisle that America has become more of an aristocracy.
In order to break up legislators’ power, I think we should pass a constitutional amendment to limit congresspeople to 18 years (9 terms) and senators to 18 years (3 terms).
In a republic, no one person is indispensable.
The longer a politician inhabits the swamp the more likely they become a creature of it. Once bitten by the political bug then it’s only a matter of time before its venom has worked its way through their veins to transform them into political vampires.
As Nancy Pelosi presumably said on January 6th to one of her unpaid interns as she was whisked away into safety, “They can’t kill what’s already dead.”
This amendment would cut short power’s corruptive nature without being so short so as to sacrifice a legislator’s ability to leverage experience.
According to Office Topics, it takes 3–6 months to learn a new job well, which explains why the probation period for most companies is 3–12 months.
It’s particularly important we make the learning curve short for legislators because ultimately they’re just paid employees for their employer — the voter — and so the management of government shouldn’t be too complex for We the People.
And in the modern context, it doesn’t make sense for either major party to oppose term limits on the basis of “experience” given that legislators don’t even read the bills they vote for and whereby Democrats had nominated Obama for thee most powerful political position in the world even though he had only 3 years of national political experience for which he had spent most of it campaigning for that nomination and Republicans had nominated Trump who had 0 national political experience. It’s also interesting to note that presidents arguably tend to be the most effective during their first term, i.e. the second-term curse.
As a person holds power the societal benefits gained from their experience begins to be outweighed by the forcefulness of their status.
On the legislative level, we can see that open elections (no incumbent) are the most competitive, but by the time an incumbent is up for his 3rd or 10th reelection, there is little variability in his reelectability because at that point he would’ve amassed enough force in the form of cash and connections to overwhelm any prospective challenger.
It’s hard to quantify the performance of legislators given the ideological nature of the job, but if we look at another powerful position that is accountable to a bottom line — CEOs — we see estimates of the ideal tenure range from 4.8 years to 10 years with the average tenure of CEOs being 8.1 years.
Legislatures also tend to be governed by seniority so instead of having the most corrupt senile legislators chairing the most powerful committees it’d shift to where less corrupt senile legislators would chair them.
The most resistance we had from balancing the budget over a 10 year window was from all the senior members, particularly the appropriators, in the Senate, including and especially the Republican leadership. — Former Senator Jim DeMint [R] testifying in favor of term limits
Jim Demint went on to say that freshman legislators learn that if they want to someday get a leadership position for which they could fundraise off of then they better be a team player. Term limits would reduce this political inequality between the old and new and reduce political fundraising because legislators wouldn’t have untold reelections ahead of them.
With that said, some right-wingers are against term limits because they want the legislature, particularly the Senate, to be more detached from popular opinion.
I sympathize with this critique, which is why I wouldn’t support a term limit less than 12 years, but nonetheless, just as fashion macro-trends often last 5–10 years we can think of an 18-year term limit as more than enough time for a politician to outlast any particular fashionable ideological trend that might pop up in any given election. And since elections would become more competitive it’d make the effort of going to vote less a fashion statement and more of a rational decision.
But it’s also important for “Never Term Limiters” to bear in mind that virtually none of the politicians we think of as independent-minded statesmen served in any given role for more than 18 years.
People also tend to have an inaccurate view of how corruption works in DC. They imagine legislators in smoked-filled rooms making quid pro quo deals, and although this does happen, what is far more common isn’t so much that a legislator was once an island unto himself who abandons principle for the right price, but like the average voter the average legislator didn’t have many strong political principles to begin with due to the sheer complexity of it all and so overtime naturally shifts in loyalty from his local constituency to his legislative colleagues, therefore, what tribe would you rather a legislator be more loyal to: his district or DC?
Every time a state has sought to implement term limits for its state legislators (currently 15) lobbyists have strongly fought against it because with higher legislative turnover it’s much harder for them to build reciprocity.
And then unlike other professions when a legislator leaves his position he isn’t leaving the arena.
With term limits, he may not be allowed to play as QB for the NFC, but he could still play as QB for the AFC or he could play as QB for a global, state, or local league.
If he stops being a QB altogether then this simply means he returns to being a boss, i.e. a voter where his voice could have just as much impact if not more!
And with 330 million people, America isn’t short of high-quality individuals to fill his position.
In the end, as legislators reintegrate back into We the People by going from a public voter to a private voter they lift up our electorate’s political knowledge, therefore, by term limiting them we aren’t so much kicking them out as much as we are kicking them up and therefore in the process lifting us all up.
One particularly disconcerting fact about our Supreme Court is that we may be one explosion away from our constitution becoming obsolete.
In other words, Joe Biden could then replace the deceased court with nine new justices via an entirely partisan 51 senate confirmation vote whereby, in my opinion, their activist judicial philosophy would make our constitution obsolete because they view it as little more than the will of the “living.”
In order to strengthen our democratic republic from this enormous constitutional vulnerability, we should have judicial term limits so that in the event of an unexpected death, a retired justice would simply fill the vacancy for the interim period.
Democrats have put forth a bill that would limit justices to 18 years where every 2 years there’d be a new appointment.
I’m emphatic to this statute, but my preference would be a constitutional amendment that would limit justices to 36 years where every 4 years there’d be a new appointment.
This means every president would make one Supreme Court judicial appointment per term.
36 years is the record for what the longest-serving justice had served in American history so obviously this term limit wouldn’t have much effect today. No term limit would though because the current roster would have to be grandfathered in, but ultimately the constitution should only be amended with an eye toward the centuries and so as humans live longer this term limit will become much more relevant.
I believe life expectancy will increase faster than current mainstream projections, but nonetheless, life expectancy will be especially high for justices who will get access to the best medicine the future has to offer.
Analysis conducted by the consulting firm Oliver Wyman estimates that the average tenure for Supreme Court justices over the next 100 years will be around 35 years so one can imagine that without term limits our Supreme Court will someday look something like this…
Due to public-sector unions and the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, it’s virtually impossible for the president of the United States to fire his Executive Branch subordinates. We should abolish these anti-democratic measures so that our 2.1 million federal employees serve again “at the discretion” of our elected leader.
But even with this return to constitutional normalcy, entrenched unelected government power is still a concern, especially as elected officials serve shorter tenures due to term limits, therefore, the 4th branch of our federal government should have a term limit too.
I recommend an 18-year term limit with a 25% break period.
In other words, if an individual goes the full 18 years then he could reapply after 4.5 years, or at 17 years he could reapply after 4.25 years, or 16 years after 4 years, etc.
With a 25% break period, if a former civilian employee decides to reapply then his skills rather than his seniority would play a greater role in whether he’s rehired.
And by forcing breaks it’d be easier to abolish unproductive positions, but if it’s determined a position should be kept then the new hire would work a bit harder knowing that its former occupant may come back.
Conservatives may find this term limit insufficiently limiting, but I don’t think a lifetime limit makes as much sense here because it encompasses more than one job and so, for example, I wouldn’t want to prevent an amazing 36-year-old colonel from becoming a general simply because he’s term-limited out after having served as a solider since he was 18-years-old.
In my opinion, a 25% break period is lengthy enough to unclog our bureaucracy’s arteries while giving former civilian employees enough time away to independently study, think, and work. And since the administrative state would know that government officials would be turning over at a higher rate it’d be harder for it to be so secretive.
And for those of us who understand the purpose of the 2nd Amendment then if our fear of government tyranny is enough to warrant us owning an AR-15 then surely we should support this amendment to increase government turnover so that if our government does go full fascist then enough of our service members would be off the payroll to stand with the people.
And if you’re concerned with inequality — then budgetary size aside — you should welcome a rule that would lead to the government’s payroll being spread out to more individuals.
With that said, I wouldn’t want the break period to be much more than 25% because if a large war breaks out then if too much of our military is sidelined then in our hysteria we’d demand this amendment’s repeal, therefore, it’s better to play it safe by keeping it at 25%. Too long could also make the federal bureaucracy more corrupt by causing bureaucrats to feel too much financial pressure to compromise their ethics.
And I wouldn’t want the term limit lower than 12 years because it could lead to more offloading of public responsibilities onto corporations, which may sound good to some of my fellow rightists, but if the incentive to do this isn’t coming from a desire for greater efficiency but rather a desire to preserve power then you could expect to see enormous regulations placed on these corporations as a way to turn them into pseudo-government agencies without the hindrance of a term limit.
An 18-year term limit with a 25% break period is flexible enough to not necessitate such corruption while rigid enough to dissipate shadowy unelected power.
In conclusion, presidential term limits already exist so we’d just need a constitutional amendment that limits the other 3 branches, which by packaging them together could pull in more support from the Left who want term limits for justices and from the Right who’d like them for the bureaucracy. I think it's much more likely to pass if current occupants are grandfathered in and if it took effect 2–6 years after enactment so neither side can accuse the other of changing the rules for partisan gain. After all, it took decades to physically drain the swamp and so if it takes decades to politically drain it then so be it, but drain it we must.
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