Ten days ago, we posted on this site an article written by Mr. Nelson Walker, a guest contributor wherein he made very strong arguments in favor of Congressional Term Limits. In fact, we fully agree with all the points he made and would encourage you to read his article again before proceeding with this one. He is absolutely correct when he states that most members of Congress have become first and foremost…career politicians who are guided by only two words: Election and having achieved that goal, then it’s all about Re-election! They do not do their job based on the principles and promises they espoused before being elected because their number one priority is to hold on to their job. This, of course, totally controls their efforts since they will evaluate every vote they have to cast through the spectrum of re-electibility. In other words, if a ‘Yes’ vote can cause loss of a certain voter block at election time, they will vote ‘No’, and vice versa. ‘Just gotta hang on to this cushy job’.
The question now becomes: How can Term Limits be imposed on members of Congress? The easiest way would be to persuade them to enact such changes. Yeah, right, that would be like asking lions to become vegetarians, to ask foxes to ignore hen houses, to hope that all labor unions would dissolve and expecting all teachers in America to love and strongly support the ‘No Child Left Behind’ education reform law. It is just not going to happen voluntarily! While some in Congress might support such term limits even on themselves, the vast majority will hang on to their jobs for as long as they can. These sane members of Congress would probably hide behind the U.S. Constitution and state that without an amendment to the Constitution, it could not be done. They would possibly even become self-righteous and dare to say that imposing Congressional Term Limits violates the Constitution! No, they would take the position that voters have the choice to ‘term limit’ any member of Congress by not re-electing them.
Many States around the country have enacted term limits for State and local office holders and the process is somewhat easier in that these States have processes to enact such laws by means of so called ‘Propositions’ (as is the case in California). They occur essentially every two years and appear on the ballots for voters to approve or disapprove. This is a working instrument for the electorate in that they can dictate to the State lawmakers what they, the people, want to have done and therefore becomes law when the lawmakers cannot do so. To get such a Proposition on the Ballot, it requires having certain numbers of signatures in favor and the numbers vary for this process. The battles for and against the approval of such propositions are in many cases as fierce as they are in the election campaigns for elected offices, be they Governor, State Attorney General etc down to State Senator and State Assembly men or women.
But let’s get back to Congressional Term Limits. The hurdles here are much higher and therefore much harder to achieve. The biggest single problem in achieving term limits for members of Congress are the voters. When one considers that most elections, even those for choosing a President, seldom reach participation by more then 55 percent of eligible voters, one can understand and recognize the main source of overcoming such hurdles for change. Voter apathy is so huge in this country, without a substantial shift there will be little chance to ever achieving such lofty goals as term limiting the men and women elected to represent us in Congress. That nearly one out of two eligible voters does not care enough to find the time to vote is a sad commentary for America. This is especially true when one considers voter turnout in other countries where voting is giving people choices that effect their lives, even if they have to face the dangers of intimidation, remember the ‘purple finger’ votes in recent years in Iraq?
As far as solutions for congressional term limits are concerned, we think that for now the only available weapon to voters is their collective ability NOT TO RE-ELECT Congressmen/women and U.S.Senators when they come and ask for their votes every two or six years respectively. This would require a strong effort on the part of concerned citizens on both sides of the political spectrum. To communicate more frequently and effectively with voters about the votes their representatives cast in Congress could be a good beginning. But for lack of money, how would this work? The print media could provide such a non-partisan service. Some newspapers do this, for instance, the San Diego Union Tribune shows congressional votes cast by local representatives on a weekly basis, but it is lost in the back pages instead of front-page news. Many other newspapers for all we know do not even bother with this and so, the average voter busy with their own lives cannot follow what Congress is doing unless he/she follows up via the Internet or other means available.
We here at ‘Back to Common Sense’ believe that an informed electorate is probably a Senator’s or Congressmen’s worst nightmare and it is not in their best interest to have them reported on frequently. Let’s be honest, how often do you hear from your elected officials other than just a month or two before the next election? If like-minded people could unite in their efforts to shed more light on the voting activities of their respected representatives, we think that re-election for those in office would not occur as regularly as it does now. We would positively like to participate in such endeavors and would do everything in our power by using this site as a vehicle for such action. It falls in line with our theme of endorsing ‘Common Sense and Thinking for Yourselves’.
We will also attempt to challenge voters next year to do just that: Thinking before they cast their votes! It is a precious right we all have and we should not use it haphazardly.