Melissa Seideman


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Should term limits be imposed on Congress?

This debate has made for many impassioned, provocative, yet fruitful discussions between myself and others. On the one hand, some call for the imposition of term limits (much like the 2-term limit on presidencies) on Congress in order to ensure the interests of "The People" are valued. These same persons believe that should term limits be imposed, Congress will be more openminded, able to understand the youth of the nation, be more attentive to the problems of today versus those of yesterday, and more technologically advanced, educated, and modernized.

On the other hand, some argue term limits would destroy all sense of stability in the Congress. These same persons claim that Congressmen and women who have served for terms on end are much more aligned with the political system, experienced in writing, debating, and passing legislation, and ultimately hold a better understanding of America and its governmental institutions than their newer and/or younger colleagues. As such, they argue term limit imposition would damage the Congress, "The People's" representation, and ultimately the United States.

Still, others compromise and call for term limits on the House of Representatives, which is meant to be more volatile and more keen to the immediate concerns of the "The People" while leaving the Senate immune to term limit imposition, as it is meant to be more stable and more keen to the longterm concerns of the Union.

  • Dec 10 2012: Congress members should definitely have term limits. if you are re relected infintely only because you have been part of the senate is kind of ridiculous. It's like America's democracy is afraid of taking one step out of its political comfort zone. It's a poor excuse that our government will lose stability. By putting this term system in our Senate gradually, Stability would not be lost and a new and better democratic system would be placed in order.
  • Nov 29 2012: Age and citizen restrictions have been a part of the Constitution since it's creation so that is a rather moot point.

    I want the right to vote for who I believe is the best and most qualified candidate. I apologize for using the word "like" in my above statement I did mean "who I feel is most qualified for the office." Again, if I cannot vote for the most qualified person due to term limits, I feel that my right to vote is being limited.
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      Nov 29 2012: I agree that the qualifications for the office of POTUS cause, ironically, the possibly most qualified person to be ineligible. That is the limiting nature of qualifying requirements. Remember, the question here is not about the President, but about Congress.
      Also, a note about TED Conversation protocol, when you wish to reply to a particular person click-on the red "REPLY" found on the same line with their name and the thumbs up icon. I got "lucky" when I found your reply to my comment, otherwise I would have missed it..
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    Nov 28 2012: They started term limits in Calif in the early 90s. It did not change anything. The reason is that the staffers stay on and train the freshman law makers to the same old crap.

    It might be worth a try but if you kept the same support staff of which it would be hard not to I'm skeptical it would make much difference.

    I think the real problem is the culture of the beltway. The only thing that will create real change is an educated constituency that will vote out politicians that stray and putting the Charlie Rangel types in jail. But alas with the dumbed down population we have now that is not likely to happen.
    • Nov 29 2012: I agree. Citizens need to have more political efficacy and there needs to be a larger form of effective grassroots lobbying in America.
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    Nov 28 2012: Each of us should evaluate this subject based on facts, and that would be on our own states representatives and what they have contributed to the country and to your state. In my case that would be Carl Hayden 56 years in Washington, Barry Goldwater 27 years, and John McCain 18 years.

    Of the three Carl Hayden put the Central Arizona Canel in place. It was designed to bring water to the desert farmers, however it was cost prohibative and never met expectations. Barry Goldwater and John McCain, in my opinion, share the same footnote in Arizona politics. They had a deep and abiding love affair with themselves. Their whole career has been to glorify themselves. In the case of McCain he reminds us of his "Hanoi" days every time we see him. I cannot name another Hanoi prisoner .... can you? John McCain is a ledgend in his own mind. Neither Goldwater or McCain have contributed one thing to my state. McCain did sponsor the "crybaby Law" because more people donated to Bush than to his campaign ... this was the direct result of the Political Action Committee (PACs).

    So Arizona has three Senators who served 101 years in Washington and we have a canal that is to expensive for farmers to water from.

    Two ... McCain and Goldwater ... ran for president ... that led me to my thought that all politicians should resign their position in concert with the announcement to run for another office effective immediately.

    I cannot think of one good reason that if any of these three were term limited that it would have had any negative effect on the United States or the State of Arizona.

    I think that Politics are a service and not a profession. As a profession they lose touch with reality. Politicians are a case of the rich getting richer ... not for sure that was the intention of the founders.

    So I vote for term limits. Although I don't see that it will make a difference. One bad penny for another doesn't help much.

    Thanks for the time. Bob.
  • Nov 27 2012: I am actually against mandated term limits (in general) as I find that it limits democracy.

    As each member of Congress has to run for re-election every 2 or 6 years, if we are unhappy with that person we can vote them out of office (thus limiting their term). I feel that my choices are curbed then I cannot vote for someone who I would like in office.
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      Nov 29 2012: Do you object to age and citizenship restrictions also? The simple fact that you would like someone to be in office does not suffice as justification and qualification. Surely you agree there must be rules and regulations defining qualifications for elected representatives, even the POTUS. The question is not about the Executive branch, but the Legislative.
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        Dec 11 2012: Congress is elected through popular sovereignty, and represents the people. The point of a Congress is to make laws that would benefit the people. If the people feel that they are not benefiting from those laws, then out they go.
        Essentially, the public opinion of a representative determines his/her term.
  • Dec 11 2012: Yes. Competition breeds improvement. I dont have to improve or even be successful if theres no outside pressure.
  • Dec 10 2012: I believe that term limits should be placed on our Congressmen and women because it would allow for a more efficient Congress. The representatives could focus on actually doing their jobs, rather than simply passing legislation to get themselves re-elected and make themselves look good. The term limits would also allow for a greater degree of representation of the House was capped at 2 terms, or 4 years and the Senate at 1 term, or 6 years. I feel that that is sufficient time to get familiar with how Washington works and to become acquainted with the legislation.
  • Dec 10 2012: I agree that term limits would cause instability in Congress. Term limits would force Congressmen to work faster in order to pass their desired legislation before the end of their time in Congress, and therefore rush the political process. This could cause major unnecessary mistakes and errors in the law making process.
  • Dec 10 2012: I can see both sides of this argument. I do believe that members of Congress are getting too comfortable in their positions, for it is very difficult for new candidates to win against incumbents. It would be beneficial to get fresh perspectives on the issues. However, I understand the argument against term limits. More time spent in Congress means more time to analyze important legislation. More time in Congress also means the Congressmember gains more experience, and will be better prepared for new issues that may occur. I hope to get more information and pick a side after tomorrow's debate.
    • Dec 11 2012: I agree with you in that both sides of the argument have valid reasoning. I think that term limits would also change the focus of a Congress person's career as a whole by forcing their efforts into their Congressional duties rather than their own reelection. But at the same time, a Congress made up of brand new faces every few years might not only upset stability but also create the same issue that citizens complain about today: the inability of Congress to "get anything done."
  • Dec 10 2012: We believe that term limits can be helpful in Congress. If a politician knows they can not be reelected, their efforts will be more focused on America's issues, not their own campaign. They will not have to make legislation just to get reelected. This will limit the amount of pork barrel legislation passed by Congress. Term limits will allow congressmen to keep more than just their district in mind. More legislation will be passed. Congress will become more efficient. And most importantly the unqualified that continue to win elections because of their incumbent status will be forced out of Congress.
  • Dec 10 2012: I believe that term limits should not be imposed on congress because with them it will cause the people of congress to push things through without really taking an in depth look at a bill. These things take a lot of time to be passed ansd with a term limits many things would not even be able to be seen through all the way with the term limits.
  • Dec 10 2012: I believe that term limits should be implemented on Congress. If other areas of the government are expected to maintain stability while respecting term limits there is no reason there should be an exception made for Congress. If Congress had term limits it would force members to make changes faster, more efficiently, and concentrate more on the people than on their on success.
  • Dec 10 2012: We think that term limits should be enstated in congress because it allows for more of America to be represented . The point of a democracy is to emcompass the voice of many, therefore, with term limits on congress men and women, it allows American citizens to choose who they want to be in office. With no term limit, this allows for a congressman to stay in office for however long he chooses, however, the country may not be satified with his work in office.

    - Diana and Daija
  • Dec 10 2012: I for one, absolutely agree with term limits being implemented on the congress. As the senate serves for six years, and the representatives serve for two, if they each are able to serve for a twelve year maximum, that is more than fair. That's two terms for senators and six for representatives. With the term limit in place these politicians will not focus on their reelection, and instead work for what their constituency needs.
  • Nov 28 2012: Number 1 the ruling elite will never destroy their careers by voting for a term limit constitutional amendment.
    Number 2 - if by chance a limit is imposed it will be for 2 or more terms which negates much of the benefit of
    having only 1 term.

    The only possible constitutional amendment that will pass thru the political elites is one that does not affect their careers and in fact offers new career possibilities which brings me to my solution which also involves the internet and term limits:

    Keep everything in our US federal government pretty much the same so the political elites will not be affected - but create a new "Board of Directors" whose members are elected at large to serve 1 term and 1 term only. Their primary mission will be to preside over an internet based "advisory" initiative and referendum system that gets direct citizen input - but they will also have congressional voting rights as possible gridlock swing votes.
    In the actual Board election the top raw vote getters would win and thereby be inclusive of third parties. Elections would be held in odd numbered years so we don't have to wait 2 years for the possibility of anything getting done in congress. Half of the board would be elected in each election.
    Certainly this would work better than temporary adhoc super committees. Modern organizations run with a Board of Directors - should not our government also have one?
    One final point - I think the president's job is too big - Democrat or Republican, even super man/woman would have a tough time. Past presidents have "on the side" helped out but there is still a "training" period. I think it is time to formalize this help by making past presidents members of the Board automatically - they would serve as long as they wanted to, miuch like supreme court justices. and provide added above the fray, big picture, senior statesman qualities.
    T. Limits, internet democracy entre', less gridlock, citizen input, improved executive
    • Nov 29 2012: "if by chance a limit is imposed it will be for 2 or more terms which negates much of the benefit of
      having only 1 term."

      I'm not sure that representatives never having to worry about reelection outweighs the negative effects of political parties having to field new candidates every election and every representative being a rook who still has to learn on the job (and there won't any experienced mentors to teach them because no one would have more than a few years experience). A 1 term limit is probably not a good idea.


      How are you going to be an effective member of, say, a defense oversight committee when you don't get time to read up on all the files and learning the tricks the military tries to pull on you. And that's just one example, something like the ACA act took a long time to make and negotiate about, probably longer than 2 years, so large legislative changes like that would be impossible if you keep replacing all representatives every 2 years. You'd get Italian-style government (new elections and negotations every 2 years so nothing gets done and the country slips away because its laws and regulations are outdated).
      • Nov 29 2012: The whole point is to get problem solvers in there and less of the politics as usual Democratic/Republican partisan all or nothing mentality - which you still have if you like
        because this is a "tweek" "addon" to the existing system that is not subject to term limits.

        Your so called rooks are likely] to be above the fray big picture types inclusive of ex US presidents, vice presidents, Ross Perot's, Ralph Nader's, Colin Powel's etc..

        Because their main job is overlooking our democratic processes and taking citizen input via
        advisory internet initiatives and referendums we have a part of our government that isn't lock step with a static party platform focused on "the base" and reelection.

        Thanks for your comments
  • Nov 27 2012: After the Presidency of Bill Clinton I think term limits should be removed from the Presidency anyway. Imagine where we would be, if Bill Clinton were President during those 8 years after "term limits" kept him out of office.
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      Nov 28 2012: Thanks for that reminder of the advantages to be had from term limits.
      • Nov 29 2012: Gee whiz, edward.. I cannot imagine you not appreciating what President William Jefferson Clinton did for our economy and national debt. And I know you must be aware of the enormous negative impact George Bush had on the national debt, respect for the USA internationally, the war in Iraq where he ignored the financial impact on American taxpayers such as yourself, and of course Republican George Bush's creation of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. I do not understand how it is you select facts that support your preconceptions, rather than looking at the truths and reality. Try truth, try facts. That's the only way we can get our lovely nation back on the track towards increasing well-being for all human beings.
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          Nov 29 2012: Oh, so your comment was meant to be supportive of the hedonist philanderer whose debauchery (truth) and blatant infidelity (fact) caused America to endure the first impeachment hearings since Andrew Johnson (fact)? Wow! Go figure. Character does not matter?
          By the way, be careful about using the middle name of the POTUS. I was chastised recently for including the name Barak Hussein Obama in a post.
          The national debt today is not the same number it was when Barak Hussein took office (fact). Select that fact when assessing your liberal party of choice and its contribution to well-being for all humans. Do you think 8-years will be enough time for Barak Hussein to clean-up Bush's mess? Thanks again for the strong argument in favor of term limits.
      • Nov 29 2012: The impeachment process was the creation of jealous, ambitious, questionable Republicans who despised the many successes of the Democratic, properly elected President of the USA. That Republican-caused impeachment process cost the American taxpayers/citizens in many ways. You know that. I wonder how you would describe the 8 years our nation was drained and diminished by Republican George Bush. Furthermore, I suspect you are against term limits because you know Republican George Bush would not have been re-elected, if there were no term limits and Bill Clinton would have been re-elected, if there were no term limits.
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          Nov 29 2012: Your argument continues to strengthen the pro side of the term limit debate. You said, and I quote: "I do not understand how it is you select facts that support your preconceptions, rather than looking at the truths and reality. Try truth, try facts." Well, truth and facts are that William Jefferson was found impeachable for perjury and obstruction of justice by independent (not Republican) counsel. Do you really argue that no wrong was done by Mr. Bill? It is not impossible that he would have been returned to office for a third term. As you point out the only thing that saved this country from such a travesty was term limits. Long live term limits! At least we fellow Americans can agree on that.
      • Nov 29 2012: edward, see my addition to above comment. No, we sisterfellow Americans do not agree with you about term limits. Let's put it to a vote now. If it were possible to re-elect Bill Clinton as President, that is exactly what would happen, barring illegal and improper interference in the election process by Republicans. You know that is true, edward.
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          Nov 29 2012: Oh my, now you drop the gender bomb. "Sisterfellow"?? That is irrelevant and inappropriate.
          Sorry Mr. Bill can't run now because Barak Hussein has the job.
          I do not know "that" (whatever you intend by that word) is true. Actually I don't know anything you have said thus far is true, with the exception of the absolute necessity of term limits. Right On sister!
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    Nov 27 2012: Does the same thinking behind term limits for POTUS not apply to Senators and Representatives? If it does then there should be term limits. If it does not we should determine why not and take the appropriate action.
  • Nov 27 2012: The people who were elected base on their support of term limits sometime changed their views over time esp. when they would be applied to said supporters.
  • Nov 27 2012: "Should term limits be imposed on Congress?"

    For some reason American MPs stay on much longer than their foreign counterparts, so yes, a term limit (say 12 years) might be in order. Far more important problems exist though: terms should be longer than 2 years so there's actually some time left to do stuff besides campaigning and districts should be abolished to prevent the rampant gerrymandering that currently exists (which is perhaps the reason so many MPs get reelected time after time after time).
  • Nov 27 2012: Yes we should have Congressional term limis. While yes, the people have the right to vote the congress people often do not make informed decisions. America is full of people who vote based on the lies that the congress candidates tell them. This can lead to an ineffective congress. Also with the same congressmen in office we would never have new legislature.
  • Nov 27 2012: Term limits should be imposed because it may decrease the chance of corporate interests effecting politics. For example, companies that continually donate to a representative's re-election fund, that representative will obviously favor the company on Capitol Hill when it comes time to vote.