Buck Throckmorton makes a rock-solid case for an idea whose time has definitely come.
We have reached a point where several of the most powerful leadership positions in Congress have been held in recent years by persons who are clearly no longer mentally fit to govern, yet they are completely untouchable at the polls. Below them in seniority are hundreds more entrenched Representatives and Senators who are unextractable.
There are a great many conservative pundits and thinkers whom I respect that argue against term limits. They make the case that, “We already have term limits, they’re called elections.”
Respectfully, they’re wrong.
It may occasionally be possible to replace an incumbent with someone from another party at the ballot box, but the cards are so stacked against primary challenges to an incumbent that pulling off a win is akin to a 16-seed winning a basketball game in March Madness. It can happen – rarely – but it’s almost impossible.
He goes on from there to knock down, one by one, the specific arguments against, including but by no means limited to these:
All 435 members of the House are not equal in power. Again, Congress has rigged it rules such that long-tenured members have much greater power and authority due to seniority. Replacing my 7-term Congressman, who has several plum committee assignments, with a rookie would mean that voters in my district are surrendering representation and influence. Again, voters are not affirming the status quo by continually returning their Representatives to Congress, they are responding as they must by how the rules are currently rigged. Term limits would flush out those with seniority and force the change that 1 district out of 435 cannot change.
Another argument from the anti-term limits crowd is that, “Power will switch to the permanent bureaucracy.” Lawmaking via regulatory power has already been overwhelmingly outsourced to the bureaucracy. Fresh blood in Congress would provide an opportunity to bring in people who might actually challenge the power of the permanent bureaucracy, rather than defend and serve it as the uniparty does now.
The same establishment Republicans who mock us for promoting term limits while we continue to re-elect our own incumbent congressman, were blind with rage at us when we actually did throw an entrenched incumbent out during a primary. Suffice it to say, the establishment is using its resources to ensure there will be no more Cantors. Since Cantor’s loss, any candidate challenging an incumbent is quickly smeared as a gadfly and an extremist by those with power and resources. This successfully deters most respectable people from engaging in long-shot primary races against incumbents.
The simplistic belief that access to the ballot renders term limits unnecessary is as idealistically utopian as believing in the benevolent communitarianism of communism, or in the benign anarchy of libertarianism. People who have attained power will seek to retain power, and those in power have weighted the playing field so heavily in favor of incumbency that meaningful turnover cannot happen at the ballot box.
No one should have access to such power indefinitely. We need term limits to force a turnover of those holding power in Congress.
‘Fraid so, yeah. Would that it were not so—one truly hates to suggest more legislation as a solution to any problem at all, if one is even marginally a Constitutional conservative—but sadly, it is. Having strayed so very far from our origins as a Constitutionally-correct representative republic, I guess resorting to last-ditch, principle-traducing measures such as term limits are inevitable.