Since everybody hates Congress, why don’t we have term limits? It’s what the people want, overwhelmingly. A full three fourths of the public support it. Democrats are in favor, 65% to 29%. And that poll is almost four years old. Take another one today and I’ll wager Democratic support has increased. It should. The Republicans control Congress, and probably will for the next 15 years. The terms which would be limited would mainly be Republican.
2018 is going to be a lousy year for Senate Democrats, and the Republicans in the House have nothing to worry about. And if 2020 is another Republican year, they will have full or partial control over Congressional redistricting after the 2020 Census. That probably means another ten years of power in the House, all the way to 2032. That’s a long time to be in the Minority.
All these Republicans who are and will be elected are going to be tough to take out. Congress is an incumbent protection machine, and you play hell getting rid of any of these people. What’s a Democrat to do?
Three terms in the House, two in the Senate. Then a lifetime ban on service in Congress. This is the way to drain the swamp. If you’re a Democrat, what have you got to lose? Oh, gee, you’d have to give up Pelosi in 2024, and Schumer in 2030, but that is a cross the Democrats would have to bear. The Republicans will have to say goodbye to Mitch McConnell, and their tears will fall like rain. Or not.
State Legislators don’t like being term limited, and many of them have a point. Serving in, say, the Tennessee Legislature isn’t some great plum. You hardly get paid at all, and it’s a lot of work. Most good people just won’t do it. When you do get a smart, effective State Legislator, it’s rare. Getting rid of the good ones with term limits is counter productive at the State level. So, all in all, the drive for State Legislative term limits was a misguided campaign.
In Congress, it’s totally different. It’s an iron rice bowl, a lifetime sinecure, a corruption very few can withstand. The entire political system is designed and operates in ways to protect incumbent Congressmen. It’s why the place is so cocked up. And it’s totally bipartisan. The Republicans are just as bad as the Democrats, if not worse. Our national legislature is a joke and a disgrace.
I’ll be approaching some Democratic State Legislators in Sacramento on this subject before too long. I wonder if any of them have any balls. If you’re a Democratic Assemblyman, and you introduce a Resolution calling for an Article V Amendment Convention for the purpose of proposing Congressional term limits, you’re going to get a call from Nancy Pelosi’s Chief of Staff, if not from Pelosi herself. You will be threatened. Maybe somebody in the Democratic Party has some courage.
Some of my Republican friends in California think Gov. Jerry Brown is a really smart guy. I disagree, but there’s a way he can prove me wrong. As a leader of the Democratic Party, Brown has as much right to take the lead on issues as anyone. He ought to come out for the use of Arrticle V to get Congressional Term Limits. Make it a Democratic issue. What else have they got?
One of the stock arguments against term limits is they force great legislators out of office prematurely. What I would like to know is — who in the hell are you talking about? Name one member of Congress who would be a great loss. A great politician can serve eighteen years, six in the House, twelve in the Senate. If you haven’t accomplished what you set out to do in eighteen years, maybe you ought to find a new line of work.
When I was 37 years old I was a freshman State Senator, and hell on wheels. I was ready to run for Congress right then and there. It was 1982, and Don Young had just been reelected to his fifth term. I wasn’t going to run against Don. He was a pretty good conservative, and I kind of liked him. So I waited, and waited, for a chance to run. It never came, and Babbie and I left nineteen years later. Don just won his 22nd term. He’s 84 and going strong, happily remarried.
It’s time to go, Don.