DeMint’s Right About Term Limits

It can sometimes be a little difficult to know for sure how the Founding Fathers would have viewed certain aspects of modern society. However, we can be certain that they would have been absolutely appalled by the emergence of the “career politician.”

Because of gerrymandering, party politics, and the rise of heavily monied interest groups, we have many politicians who for all practical purposes, do not have to fear reelection.

Since incumbents have incredible advantages in name recognition, fund raising ability, and in the support of the local political machinery, it’s very, very difficult to successfully beat them in a primary.

But, once the primary threat is past, the majority of states and districts heavily lean one way or the other. So, someone like John Kerry:  is unlikely to be seriously challenged for his Senate seat in Massachusetts and Robert Byrd will hold his seat in West Virginia until the vultures carry him off.

You may think that means these people are doing a good job of representing their constituents — but, that’s far from true in many cases. When the system is rigged so heavily to favor one side or the other, catering to interest groups is more important than catering to your constituents. That’s because outside of a horrific scandal, only the interest groups can muster up the money and manpower to conceivably overcome the huge natural advantage an incumbent politician has in these states and districts.

That brings us to Jim DeMint’s latest proposal:

Sen. Jim DeMint says Washington politicians are like fruit on the vine: the longer they hang around, the more rotten they get.

The South Carolina Republican – hearkening back to the days of the party’s “Contract with America” – on Tuesday offered a fix to the corrupting influence of “permanent politicians,” introducing an amendment to the Constitution that would limit Senate members to three six-year terms and House members to three two-year terms.

“As long as members have the chance to spend their lives in Washington, their interests will always skew toward spending taxpayer dollars to buy off special interests, covering over corruption in the bureaucracy, fundraising, relationship building among lobbyists, and trading favors for pork – in short, amassing their own power,” said Mr. DeMint, who is running for a second term next year.

Senate leaders and longtime Washington watchdogs said Mr. DeMint’s bill had a zero chance of becoming law, mostly because of a general lack of interest and the high hurdles to amending the Constitution.

“It’s a great issue to talk about, but it’s not going to happen,” said Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the Democratic majority’s second-highest ranking leader.

Mr. Durbin said he didn’t know whether the bill would even get a vote.

My guess is that even if the American people were demanding this bill, it probably wouldn’t have a chance of getting through Congress unless it was made clear that only newly elected politicians would be affected. In other words, the politicians already in office wouldn’t be voting to term limit themselves out of a cushy job.

Out of all the changes we could make to the Constitution, there’s probably none that would be more beneficial than Congressional term limits because most career politicians spend their time thinking about their career, not how they can represent their constituents.

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