The Fix Is In


Congressman Randy Kuhl had an idea: Ask his constituents what legislation they would like him to propose to fix Washington. Out of many suggestions, he picked five for constituents to vote on. Whichever proposal got the most support would be submitted to his colleagues as legislation. Over one thousand voters in Kuhl’s district participated.

He called it the “Fix Washington Project.”

While the contest was still underway, I reported that 12-year term limits on Congress was one of the five options. Throwing caution to the wind, I predicted term limits would triumph. Was I right?

Before I answer, let me say how much I like the idea of voters getting involved in proposing legislation. In fact, I think voters should have a way to bypass legislators altogether and pass laws directly. Half the states of the union have a formal process for enabling this. It’s called “citizen initiative.”

Okay, enough suspense. Congressional term limits collected 43 percent of the vote in Kuhl’s contest, winning the greatest support of any of the five alternatives.

I’m no soothsayer. Term limits have always been popular with voters. A recent Rasmussen Reports poll shows 83 percent support for congressional term limits.

So hats off to Congressman Kuhl. But your term limits legislation is no doubt going to be more popular with your constituents than with your colleagues back in Washington.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

10 Comments so far ↓

  1. Nov
    Don Perera

    We have “term limits” in CA and they don’t seem to have done much to improve things. The voters have term limits come up every 2/4/6 years, it’s called an election. They just don’t seem to take advantage of them.

    Maybe “redistricting” in CA will help???

  2. Nov
    Carl Ecklund

    Term limits? We already have them. I have vowed to never vote for another incombent no matter how much I agree with his public statements or his votes.
    The only thing they fear is losing their jobs. And it is the only thing that will make them responsive to the public.

  3. Nov

    Term limits? No, no, no, no, no!!! As Don already mentioned term limits in CA haven’t worked; in fact Sacramento has gotten worse every election because these guys know they’re lame ducks the moment they’re sworn in for their last term. And which constituency do you think they’re going to listen to during that lame duck term: the voters or the special interest group that’s going to set them just fine for when they’re out. Note that Congressmen are lame ducks for only a few months and can’t do too much damage whereas termed out legislator has an ENTIRE TERM to cause trouble. That and about a third of his buddies are in the same situation and you have a recipe for corruption. The whole intent of term limits is to get the OTHER GUY’S legislator out of office.

    I, too, am putting a lot of hope into redistricting. Makes any election more competitive but still leaves the potential for the lame ducked final term.

  4. Nov
    Don Perera

    Incumbents stay alive by bring back lots of “earmarks”/”pork” to their constituents. The constituents don’t seem to realize that the “earmarks” were their money to start with. Like Washington has any money that didn’t come from some poor taxpayer.

    Congress can waste money faster than you and I can earn it, just look at the new Capitol Visiter Center that is only three years late and $360,000,000 (100%) over budget. Why can’t the voters/taxpayers hold these people accountable for some of their screw-up(see “mortgage meltdown”). I’m begining to believe we deserve what we get/allow.

  5. Nov
    Dr. T

    A majority of voters claim they support Congressional term limits. If so, then why are term limits needed? If most voters believe that Congresspersons should be replaced often, why do they continually re-elect them? Some Congresspersons have been re-elected more than a dozen times! Obviously, the voters are lying. What they really want are term limits on everyone elses Congresspersons. That way, their veteran pork-grabber will do even better against a bunch of rookies.

  6. Nov
    Douglas R Souvignier

    Unfortunately, the system is greatly biased against challengers. The founders envisioned serving in Congress as a temporary time away from one’s chosen field. Instead,it’s become a lucrative lifelong “home” for too many, and sadly, only mandatory limits will change it.

  7. Nov
    Bob Hawkins

    I would propose that rather than term limits, limit terms to ONE for ONE branch of government per lifetime.
    It is the re-election that is the major problem. You want me to do you a favor? Would you see my secretary about your campaign contribution, then we will talk more.

  8. Nov

    Redistricting in many states would do a world of good. The incumbents now have systems in place that almost guarantee them a return to Washington or state capitals. Political parties now conduct 2, 4, and 6 years popularity contests & not elections. Few newcomers can stand up to an incumbent machine when the party backs the incumbent.
    In addition, one political party of the other controls most states since cities use their populations to crush opposition from the outskirts, where it is much more difficult to get out & vote than in cities where buses & other vote getting plans are in place.
    We need to crush the ability of special interests groups to affect public policy. They stand only for what “they” believe in despite public opposition. And most special interest groups are extremely radical in their desires for this nation.
    The ONLY special interest politicians should care about is “the people.” No other groups plans or desires should hold sway over what is or is not done. Only the people should be able to directly affect what politicians do or do not do.
    End special interest groups influence. That will bring about real change!

  9. Nov
    Michael M

    I agree completely with Dr. T.

    In my opinion, the Constitution already provides term limits for Representatives and Senators . . . it’s in the form of elections. Granted, 99% of the career politicians are some of the worst spenders of all, but in theory an _experienced_ politician can do a lot of good. I don’t want to take that opportunity away from the voters.

    The best thing this country can have is an informed electorate, and we don’t have that. If we did, more voters would _choose_ to elect new representatives.

  10. May
    mike mckay

    We all have internet access. Suppose every day we come home from work, look at the issue of the day,before we eat dinner, see how much implementation would cost, see what our share would be, and vote it up or down. If it is not funded, it will not be done. Bypass the legislators. Direct individual participation and funding.

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