Q&A Friday #50: Are Term Limits A Pipe Dream?

Question: “Are term limits for Congress just a pipe dream? If not, what will it take to make this a major election issue again, as it was in 1994? If so, what are the long term consequences of our inability to consistently unseat ineffective incumbent politicians on both sides of the aisle?” –President_Friedman on

Answer: Term limits aren’t a pipe dream, particularly if they’re not retroactively applied to members of Congress that are already in office, so as not to threaten the jobs of the people voting on them. However, if we are going to get term limits, it’s going to take a groundswell of support from the general public to force Congress to act — and right now, that’s not happening.

However, this election cycle is showing us exactly why we do need term limits. Supposedly this is a “big wave year” and people are wildly unhappy with Congress and it’s, “another 1994,” etc., etc., etc. But, even with everything that’s going on, there are 435 House members and maybe 50 competitive races in the House. So, in other words, maybe 80%+ of our representatives in the House have about as much chance of being voted out of office as Saddam Hussein did when he ran Iraq.

Obviously, that’s not good for democracy because most people in the country don’t have any sort of meaningful choice at the ballot box when they’re selecting their Congressional representative. It also means that we’re going to be stuck with a lot of arrogant, out-of-touch politicians who really don’t feel a lot of pressure to represent their constituents because elections are nothing more than mere formalities for them.

That’s the reality that we have to live with and term limits, along with putting an end to gerrymandering, would go a long way towards making sure Congressmen better represent the people who send them to Washington.

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