Where were you in 1956? I wasn’t even born. But Strom Thurmond of South Carolina was sitting in the exact same place he sits today: the United States Senate.
He has held office in the U.S. Senate longer than anyone in history: 44 years, and counting. The guy is 97 years old. He’s a fixture in South Carolina politics, but is he still able to do the job for the people?
Well, there are signs the answer is no.
He had to step down as chairman of the Armed Services Committee because he just physically could not keep up with the demands of the position. But who cares, right? He’s got seniority. He has also missed half the meetings of the committees on which he still sits, mostly it appears due to poor health. At least, that’s better than the state’s junior Senator Fritz Hollings, who after serving 34 years has missed 70 percent of the meetings of the Appropriations, Budget and Commerce panels since his last election.
As an incumbent with universal name recognition, Thurmond easily won re-election in 1996. Still, most South Carolinians think it’s time he retired.
Not that they would want to end his career by defeating him — in effect, firing him. Voters don’t like to do that. Great men leave on their own, but today’s politicians need term limits.
Senator Thurmond should step down and give someone else a chance to serve in the Senate. Let’s just say it’s time.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.