Those who have advanced a Constitutional Convention in the terms of an Article V Convention, have often said that people were in agreement that there should be a constitutional amendment for congressmen and senators to only be able to serve so many terms. However, that is very surface level, and I’m not just talking about the Article V convention which has a lot of pitfalls. In a new video, Constitutional expert Robert Brown explains how term limits transfers the power of We the People to lobbyists and special interests.
First, Brown points out that when states have attempted to set term limits for their representatives or senators, that they have been pushed back because those limits are not in the Constitution. In fact, the only reason we have Amendment XXII was because of Republicans in Congress who pushed for term limits on a president following President Franklin Delano Roosevelt winning a fourth term in office. He was the only president in our history to actually serve more than two terms.
While the presidency is one thing, since it is one man representing various states, the same cannot be said of congressmen or senators. They represent one district or one state. Therefore, in my opinion, if states wanted to impose term limits on their representatives, they could under Article 10 of the Bill of Rights.
When asked if term limits were a bad idea for Congress, Brown stated “Absolutely.” For many, this may come as a shock, but at least hear out his reasoning.
Brown looked back to the Founding Fathers as to why they did not include term limits in the US Constitution.
“Remember, they had term limits under the Articles of Confederation,” he began. “When they went to draft this new Constitution, they recognized that was a mistake, having term limits on Congress.”
“Some of the reasoning they gave was that when you have term limits, say for example, I’m your US congressman and I’m now entering my final term,” he mused. “I have no possibility of being re-elected anymore. I have nothing I need from you anymore. There’s nothing you can do. I don’t need your vote anymore because you can’t vote for me.”
Brown says that this, in the words of the framers of the Constitution, takes away their “inducement to good behavior” because they no longer have a reason to listen to those they represent. This then brings about the question, who will influence a congressman in his final term who won’t listen to those he represents? Those who are right there waiting to take advantage as they always are: lobbyists and special interests groups.
Mr. Brown believes at that point, they would have even more influence over a congressman. He believes it’s very similar to what we run into with a lame duck Congress.
A lame-duck session of Congress in the United States occurs whenever one Congress meets after its successor is elected, but before the successor’s term begins.
“We have the lame duck session of Congress, after the November election, where a good portion of them who have been kicked out of office are still there, but only for about two months,” he said.
In the case of term limits, that would move to at least two years for a congressman or six years for a senator!
“Term limits is like saying, ‘Take this lame duck session and expand it,'” said Brown.
If you are asking what the big deal is, Brown comments that lame duck sessions are the best time to push through really bad pieces of legislation.
Brown affirmed that term limits would be the “candy prize” for lobbyists and the bureaucracy because of the opportunities to advance bad legislation against the will of the people and the Constitution.
“This would mean that the lame duck session is not just from November till the end of the year,” Brown warned. “It’s year round.”
According to Brown, it removes power from the people and transfers it to the lobbyists and special interests in Washington. I can’t say that I disagree with his assessment either. One of the biggest issues I had with term limits was that it takes away the responsibility and freedom of the people to continue to elect representatives they believe actually represent them well and lawfully. Former Texas Congressman Ron Paul served twelve terms and constantly fought the establishment and his people loved him. Of course, it works in the opposite direction for people like Rep. Nancy Pelosi.
The reality is that people already have term limits at their disposal. It’s called an election. The way to defeat entrenched, corrupt politicians is to vote them out, and the only way that will happen is if people stop being complacent in their politics and deal with members of all parties fairly under the law and educate themselves on those asking for their vote.
Take a look at the entire interview before commenting.
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