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Teachable Moment

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the Teachable Moment

Should terms of Members of Congress also be limited?

Terms of members of Congress should be limited for the same reason that Congress limited the terms of the President in 1951: Power corrupts. Implementing term limits will get rid of career politicians intheirprotectedivory towers and install citizen statesmen who live among the problems of ordinary people with real lives and jobs.

First, when candidates know they cannot run again, they will not be compelled to vote just along party lines or to make legislative decisions for special interest groups.

Second, having revolving new members will limit the time, money, and power that others have to influence election results for someone already in office. With term limits, qualified people, no matter their finances, will again have a real opportunity to win elections.

Third, important committee appointments now are often assigned to established congressmen if they are willing to support causes or projects that may benefit a particular group. Term limits will allow committee assignments to be determined by merit and expertise, resulting in fair and informed decisions on issues.

Finally, since Congress will not restrictitself,individualstates must themselves set term limits for the candidates from their states. States can challenge a 1995 Supreme Court decision that protected legislators from accountability to their voters. The states have the power to amend the Constitution, when Congress will not, if twothirds of the states request that a Constitutional Convention be convened to pass an amendment. It could limit senators to two six-year terms and congressmen to three two-year terms.

Term limits are no cure-all. The political class seems biased toward expanding government control over the daily lives of ordinary citizens, but weakening its long-term membership could lessen the unrest now apparent in the nation.

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