A new Congress was gaveled into session recently within the halls of the United States Capitol. Senator Ted Cruz introduced a bill to impose term limits on members of congress. There are a lot of strong opinions on both sides of this issue. In this article, I will add one more opinion to the din.
We have always had term limits in America. They were composed of three things – virtuous candidates, principled voting citizens, and elections.
Very few would argue that the caliber of candidates that we have to choose from in a given election has greatly deteriorated. This is, in fact, often a reason given by citizens who refuse to vote: “there just aren’t any good candidates”. Nothing demonstrated this difficulty more than the last presidential election.
We have seen a precipitous slide in the morals demanded and expected from our leaders. Bill Clinton comes to mind, and his oft discussed wife. The list of corrupt politicians is endless. However, while there have always been bad apples, “politician” did not used to be synonymous with “corrupt liar”.
George Washington is the epitome of what I mean by “virtuous candidate”. As president, he was so loved and adored, he could easily have remained in power until his dying breath. But of his own free will, he relinquished the presidency and encouraged a peaceful transition of power through Constitutional means.
The key here is that Washington did not love power. He did not even particularly want it. Washington saw a need for leadership, and responded out of a sense of duty and love of his fellow man. He acted out of a selflessness that is conspicuously absent in modern day America.
Principled Voting Citizens
This component of traditional term limits has three parts. First, individuals must be citizens. That’s right, illegal immigrants, refugees, etc. cannot and should not vote. It may sound harsh to the ears of the little college snowflakes, but it’s the truth.
Second, those citizens must be principled. They must know what they believe and why they believe it. They must be informed on the American Constitutional system of government and know why it is vital to the survival of our nation.
And third, those citizens must be actively participating in the electoral process. Even with all the insane hype surrounding the election this year, 2016 was the lowest voter turnout since 1996, with only roughly 55% of voting age citizens actually casting ballots.
As James Garfield was quoted above, the people are responsible for those in power. By voting (or not voting) you are having a direct impact on the direction of America. Citizens must know what they believe and be willing to put that belief into action.
This final component of original term limits ties in directly to what was stated above regarding citizens taking the time to actively engage in the electoral process. There are systems in place to oust those who break their vows to uphold the Constitution (something the liberals just recently discovered strangely enough). The problem is, it takes educating yourself and those around you, it takes time, blood, sweat, and tears.
Whether it is every 4 years or every 2 years, Americans have a choice regarding whether they want to limit the term of any given politician. Every election, every politician has a choice regarding whether they want to limit their own term in office, just like George Washington did.
Too Far Gone?
However, if you have citizens who are unprincipled, if you have citizens who are disengaged from the process, if you have politicians who are selfish, self-serving, power hungry, unethical, and deceitful, then the original form of term limits ceases to work.
Of our 3 key components, elections is the only one left in full force. And now even that is under attack from the left as they once again call for the destruction of the electoral college.
Are Constitutionally mandated term limits the solution? I would love to hear your thoughts. I leave you with a few thoughts from a couple guys we’d do well to listen to –
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” ~John Adams
“Men must be governed by God or they will be ruled by tyrants.” ~William Penn