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Nemo me impune lacessit

No one provokes me with impunity

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No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

Article 1, Section 9, Constitution of the United States

If this is the law of the land...why in a republic (little r) and as republicans, do we allow mere POLITICIANS to the right to use a "title of office" for the rest of their lives as if it were de facto a patent of nobility. Because, as republicans, this should NOT be the case...just saying...

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Friday, April 02, 2010

Terms Limits & Political Incumbency

I don't know where this came from.  The friend who sent it to me isn't sure of it's provenance either.  BUT!  I did take the time to confirm all of the facts that it contains.  They are to my knowledge a fairly accurate depiction of reality. 
Politicians are staying in Congress longer and longer, but in an election year with a noticeably anti-incumbent mood, some Washington outsiders are challenging the idea of making a career out of public service.

"We need folks coming in from the outside who have paid taxes and created jobs and lived under the regulations that these career politicians have created," said Jim Rutledge, a Republican attorney running to unseat Maryland Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski, who has 33 years in Congress between the House and Senate.
Rutledge is typical of the outsiders running this year, who know statistics are not in their favor.

Between 1789 and 2002, 13.9 percent of House members and 21.9 percent of senators served 12 years or more, according to the Congressional Research Service.

In today's Congress, 42.9 percent of House members and 45 percent of senators have been in office for 12 years or more, according to data compiled by the authors of the textbook "Congress and Its Members."

Term limits supporters, who think 12 years in Congress is plenty, say those numbers have an easy explanation.

"The powers of incumbency in this country are so great that it is nearly impossible to unseat an incumbent, barring death, indictment, scandal or retirement," said Philip Blumel, a Florida financial planner and president of the advocacy group U.S. Term Limits.

In 2008, 94 percent of incumbents were re-elected to the House and 83 percent were re-elected to the Senate, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Term-limits advocates argue that limiting lawmakers' time in office would help clean up some of Washington's worst practices and rejuvenate a democratic process gone stagnant with incumbency. The basic argument is this: Open seats draw the most attention, resources and debate, so why not build them into the system by forcing people to leave office after they've done their time?

Republican state Sen. Andy Harris is perhaps the most high-profile Maryland candidate speaking out on the term-limits issue.

"I believe that the American public should have a say on this issue through a constitutional amendment," Harris said in an e-mail. "Congress has evolved into an insulated institution where power is wielded by a few to benefit themselves and their special interest friends. A discussion of congressional term limits is timely and would benefit the entire country."

Harris is running against Rep. Frank Kratovil, D-Stevensville, the only one of Maryland's nine incumbents running for re-election this year with serious competition. The other incumbents, while never completely safe, face unknown novices and underfunded challengers.

However, longtime Maryland incumbents have lost their seats not so long ago.

Kratovil and Harris are battling in a district that just ousted an incumbent. Former Rep. Wayne Gilchrest was beaten by Harris in the 2008 GOP primary after holding the seat for almost 18 years.

Reps. Donna Edwards, D-Fort Washington, and Chris Van Hollen, D-Kensington, got into their respective offices by defeating longtime incumbents Albert Wynn, a Democrat, and Connie Morella, a Republican.

Curtis Gans, the director of the Center for the Study of the American Electorate at American University, said term limits are a terrible idea because they take power away from the people. In a term-limited legislature, Gans said, power would fall to unelected staff and lobbyists who would keep their jobs while elected officials rotated out.

Term limits would also restrict people with the most experience and ability from serving in Congress and would contribute to the election of extreme, polarizing candidates, Gans said.

"Incumbents ought to get the benefit of the doubt if they perform honorably," said Gans. "If they're not incompetent, they ought to be staying in office."

In Maryland, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Mechanicsville, and Mikulski draw most of the criticism from term-limits supporters. Like Mikulski, Hoyer has been in Congress for about three decades.

U.S. Term Limits' Blumel said that some Republicans are embracing term limits simply because their party isn't currently in control or they're newcomers running for office for the first time, but popular support for the issue doesn't fall along party lines.

"It's really not so much a left-right issue as it is a people versus power issue," said Blumel.

"There's a big interest in it right now. There's a big anti-incumbent mood," he said. "If the Congress was truly representative, we'd already have this done."
Here's my own take on a possible 28th amendment:  I hereby propose the following as the 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution.
  1. No citizen of the United States shall be elected to the House of Representatives to more than four (4) consecutive, two (2) year terms to office.
  2. No citizen of the United States shall be elected to the United States Senate for more than two (2) consecutive, six (6) year terms of office.
  3. No citizen of the United States shall receive any retirement benefits from serving in either the United States House of Representatives or the United States Senate.
  4. Congress shall not exempt itself from any laws of the United States of America, in whole or in part.
  5. Congress shall be in session for a period of not less than 90 60 consecutive days in the Spring, and 90 60 consecutive days in the Summer Fall of each year. Each sitting of Congress may be extended by the President for a period not to exceed 30 15 days. The Spring session shall start on the first Monday of March. The Summer Fall session shall begin on the first Monday in August. An additional 15 day session to begin on the 2nd Monday of November shall be called by the President if so deemed necessary by declaration of a national emergency, this session may not be extended unless a period of National Emergency is formally declared by the President. {This section I think is necessary to basically force Congress to actually work...in the past decade they generally only spend 2 1/2 days per week actually working in Washington, DC. Most often only from Tues afternoon to Thurs afternoon!}
UPDATE:  11-16-2010:  I added the underlined part and changed it from 45 days to 15 to limit damage that a lame duck Congress could do...and on

UPDATE:  On Thanksgiving Day, I altered the the length of the sessions to 60 days, as I've come to the conclusion that having a "full-time" legislature, since that gives them far too much time to screw around with the country.  Because, by having a full-time, year round legislative assembly, they ten to pass all sorts of crap that isn't necessary and merely becomes a way to spend/waste the people's money on useless and uncessary crap.  Additionally, by mandating that a Fall session is to start in August, it would force Congress to actually work harder, as it limits the amount of time an incumbent would be able to actively campaign prior  to each election day.

2 comments:

Nelson Lee Walker of tenurecorrupts.com said...

But FIRST, we must create a groundswell, as follows:

A Congress of career politicians will NEVER allow us to constitutionally term limit them by an amendment. But... WE CAN IMPOSE term limits on them in Congressional elections (‘2010, 2012, 2014......):

1. Never reelect your Congressman or Senator.
2. Always vote, but only for the strongest challenger , regardless of party .

If Congress has not passed a term limits bill by 2014, repeat this in 2016, 2018....

Our only intelligent choice is to NEVER REELECT anyone in Congress!

The only infallible, unstoppable, guaranteed way to get a truly new Congress, AND a new politics, is NEVER REELECT ANY INCUMBENT! DO IT EVERY ELECTION until term limits is ratified. In other words, don't let anyone serve more than one term until Congress passes a term limits bill!

NEVER REELECT ANYONE IN CONGRESS. DO IT EVERY ELECTION! ... until we ratify term limits.

Nelson Lee Walker of tenurecorrupts.com

Rich Vail said...

Nelson, you have made some excellent points. Thanks!