Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

Long Live the . . . Term Limits

Kings Collage

Queen Elizabeth II, the not-quite-just-a-figurehead monarch of Great Britain, has just become her country’s longest reigning potentate.

“She passes Queen Victoria, her great-great-grandmother,” the AP reports, “who was on the throne for 63 years and 7 months.”

This should mean almost nothing to Americans. A curiosity at best, alongside other eccentric British institutions, like cricket and pub cuisine. Americans fought and won against King George III, and we don’t have kings any longer. Or queens.

Britain’s prime minister dutifully predicted that “millions” of Britons would celebrate the “historic moment.” One of the most irreverent (and unpopular) things I ever wrote pertained to Her Alleged Majesty, and the weird, atavistic yearnings still focusing on celebrity sovereigns.

We have enough problems with non-sovereign celebrities in America — as well as with way-too-long-serving politicians.

I’m for term limits. I approve of them on our presidents (thank you, 22nd Amendment), work to place them on our legislators, state and congressional, and have suggested placing term limits on U.S. Supreme Court justices, too.

If we still had an old-fashioned monarch — as Alexander Hamilton wanted — then I would be for term limits on monarchs as well. I wouldn’t know how to implement them — it’s not exactly a live issue for me — but perhaps L. Sprague de Camp’s imagined five-year reign, leading to a beheading, could be considered.

Meanwhile, back in American reality, we have a lot of work to do. At least we aren’t saddled with a musty old . . . monarch-y.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

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Kings Collage


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  1. Paul Jacob says:

    Here is the column written about the Queen’s 2007 trip to America. Popular or not, I sure liked it.

  2. Pat says:

    We might not have a monarchy, but we still have political dynasties, and I don’t mean just the Bushes and Clintons. I worry more about states where voters elect generations of the same family to state government and congressional seats that are ‘family’ seats. How many seats in Congress or in state government were ‘inherited’? Again, I blame voters for the current state of our government, at all levels. Today’s ‘royals’ in Britain are a thoroughly middle-class family. They run a family business. The monarch is a figurehead, who represents continuity. As long as the people of Britain are willing to finance the royal family, let them reign in peace.

  3. Rose Hercher Wright says:

    The only thing more insane than unlimited Congressional terms are insanely SHORT ones.

    Given how much we expect of our legislators, two year terms are woefully inadequate.
    No sooner are House members in their jobs than they must begin campaigning to keep them. They yo-yo back/forth between their work and reelection stresses far more often than does the Senate, which enjoys a nearly 6-year uninterrupted off-season.

    The House needs every bit of its tiny term learning the ropes and working for us. And all too often, just as they’re firing on all cylinders amidst busy agendas, their time is up. To divert huge chunks of this precious time to closely-spaced elections is both disruptive to their workflow and unfair to their constituents. Our needs shouldn’t be sidelined or sacrificed to unviable term lengths.

    I’m tired of losing dynamite legislators at the height of their service, especially at the state level. And to lose them while overdoing their jobs and underdoing their campaigning is a classic Catch-22 contradiction. Those at greatest risk are the newbies – the ones who work hardest and longest in their initial terms.

    All other high offices and terms should be limited. But the length of House-terms should actually be extended; quality is time-related. In a political arena demanding fresh blood, new ideas and greater government efficiency, legislative term-extension makes more sense than ever.

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