Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

During the last few weeks of Egyptian unrest, a phrase got bandied about with an unusual degree of assumed support: Term limits. We heard of their importance from The Christian Science MonitorThe New York Times, and other news sources, some of which would normally pooh-pooh any push to establish, say, legislative term limits in America.

The writers and editors in question should find this odd. Why is it good for an executive in America to be term limited (as our Commander-in-Chief is), and even essential (as was often said) for commanders elsewhere, while it’s verboten for U.S. legislators?

Term limits’ rationale is clear. Journalists who wrote about the lack of term limits for Mubarak got the idea. They’re familiar with Lord Acton’s dictum: Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Term limits for executives prevent tyrannies from forming — or, if formed, from continuing till the rigors of mortis set in.

What do term limits for legislators prevent?

Not full-blown tyranny, exactly, but corruption. In a representative democracy, corruption can be subtle.

Term limits are just unsubtle enough to check some of that.

Take John Dingell, the politician to serve longest exclusively in the House. He took over his district from his father, who had served there 22 years — a 78-year dynasty!

Aristotle argued men should “rule and be ruled in turn.” Term limitation: a democratic principle to ward off both wannabe dictators and legislative dynasties.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor


  1. Pete Hosey says:

    I agree with one exception. The president is not our commander-in-chief. He is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces in time of war. He’s not the commander-in-chief of the people.

  2. GERRY HALL says:

    I agree completely with TERM LIMITS for all of CONGRESS. Since we do not, and probably will not have term limits because the congress has to vote on it. That it itself is wrong. Because they are in control of what they can do…like making choices for us, but eliminating those choices for themselves…Obamacare, term limits, etc. They have been in total control of everything they do, thus making sure that their retirement, benefits, wages, etc are in their hands.
    WHOEVER HEARD OF AN EMPLOYEE, THE CONGRESS, GIVING THEMSELVES RAISES, yet they do. Congress and the President have a free pass with the Justice Department. Ever notice that whatever they do, even though it may be something that a regular citizen would have gone to jail for,THEY NEVER GO TO JAIL, NEVER GET IMPEACHED, NEVER ARE REPREMANDED FOR ANYTHING. WHY???
    Is Congress GOD, that they can do no wrong? I don’t think so.
    As for our President, if he is suppose to be the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, should he have had to serve in the armed forces so he has knowledge of what to do in case of WAR, or us being invaded. All the changes behind closed doors, was suppose to be transparent, is it? Our president, Obama, should be impeached and brought to justice, as the Congressmen that helped him become President. According to our 14th Amendment, both parents have to be born American citizens, his our not. As an American citizen I am proud to show my birth certificate, yet he will not, so you know he is lying. What other lies and untruths about what he is doing to our country and getting away with it.
    Why has our Judges and the Supreme Court allowed him to prevail and continue in his tarrany of destroy-ing the USA and the American citizens. I want justice for all, not only the common people.

  3. Laurence says:

    There is a major flaw in the mental enthusiasm for term limits, an enthusiasm I had until the end of the last legislative session when lame duck Democrats were relieved of the restraint intrinsic to those who must face the electoral process to keep their job. Without this restraint they wildly forced through unpopular (and expensive) legislation much to the delight of the president. That lame duck “session”, fortunatly, only lasted a couple of months. But,in the case of term limited legislators, once a rep. or senator is elected to his, or her, final term the lame duck period becomes two, or six YEARS respectively. No Thanks

  4. Drik says:

    Hamilton sought an appointment for life for Congressmen. He also was seeking to reform an oligarchy much like the one that we had just revolted to break from. Fortunately, Madison prevailed, and tried to formalize a government that would permanently fight against the tendancy of power to centralize.
    With the 17th amendment, Congress did an end run around that limit and created a system with defacto Congressmen for life appointments. At least in effect, if not on paper.
    We will not have a republic again, or even a hope for one, until that miserable mistiake is fixed. And if it continues unfixed, and we continue with a Congress that panders for vates instead of to please the states as well as the people, we will no have a United States for long.
    While Presbo presumes to push for economic collapse in the hopes of then “transforming” the collapsed economy into something more fair, and more to his liking, twill more likley be like the power vacuum that existed in Iran after the collapse of the Shah, where the idealistic, intellectual students kept their ideal society for only a month before the zealots took over.
    A collapsed economy under Presbo will last not long before many of the states realize that their interests are not being looked after. And if the zeolots under Presbo try to enforce their utopia, then they had best do a better job of conscripting, because the military is still sold on the idea of the Constitution, and without the threat of death, the Constitutionalists still prevalent in America may go off on their own.

  5. Drik says:

    The socialists here will not last long in the power vaccuum after the collapse unless they start conscripting a mercenary soldier, much like the mullahs have non-Iranians running their military who have no compuctions about shooting Iranians.

  6. Dennis says:

    The U.S. Senate has maintained a majority that are all lawyers. That majority has usually been 60% of the senators. As long as the senate is allowed to keep 60% of its member lawyers in office, there will never be any Tort Reform. The lawyers do not want it. Somehow, being a lawyer is supposed to guarantee a living and wage several cuts above the rest of us. We need to stop electing lawyers to political office.

  7. Josiah Rowe says:

    Seniority is the root cause of the problem. Congressional seniority rules are used to stifle or silence newer members. Why should one member have more power than another? It’s the position that comes with seniority which make re-election more likely. That’s what has given us old codgers like Kennedy, Robert Byrd, Murtha, Dingell.

  8. Kenneth H. Fleischer says:

    I believe that the mental and moral corruption of politicians is proportional to each of three factors: (1) The desire for power; (2) The amount of power attained; (3) The duration of being in power. The unfortunate aspect of politics in the U. S. and most other countries with elected governments is that most voters tend to vote for the candidates that most desire the office, rather than the candidates that LEAST desire the office, and thus the voters assure the corruption of politics and politicians.

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