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Mike’s Musings: U.S. Congress needs term limits

By Mike Wilcox
I’ve been a proponent of term limits for a long time. I believe at too many federal level lawmakers make politics a lifelong career, which was not the intention of our Founding Fathers.
Don Young, Alaska’s congressman for 50 years, died recently. Before this weekend when I read former governor and vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin was going to run for his seat, I had never heard of Young.
The man, elected to the same office 25 times, was the longest-serving lawmaker in Washington, D.C. yet had virtually accomplished nothing. Fifty years and the best he could do on his résumé was claim he was Natural Resources Committee charman for a time.
The same could be said for another nearly 50-year D.C. politician. On his third try Joe Biden finally became President of the United States, thanks to Barack Obama choosing him to be vice-president previously. In his congressional career, Biden accomplished nothing other than becoming a prominent member of the D.C. swamp.
The list goes on. Some are in leadership positions. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has been around forever. The same can be said for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. They have spent most of their lives in the D.C. bubble and have no clue what life is like outside it.
On the other hand, political novices like the progressive squad or the recently-elected GOP congresspeople are proposing all kinds of new ideas and strategies plus providing leadership not forthcoming from their elders. In some respects they are a breath of fresh air.
An example, albeit he’s not in the U.S., Ukraine president Voldymar Zelenskyy has been generally acknowledged as a terrific leader. By standing with his fellow citizens and making pleas for weaponry and sanctions to all the western countries, he is portrayed as a dynamic and fearless leader.
I doubt if any of our so-called elder lawmakers would provide the leadership Zelenskyy, a comedian and actor before he was elected, has provided. Only a politician for a few years, he was thrust into the biggest challenge of his country’s existence. Maybe some of that is because he is not hampered by the rules and seniority thrust upon U.S. lawmakers.
I mention seniority because committee chairmanships and assignments in Congress are mostly chosen by seniority. This assures that lawmakers in mostly-safe districts that rarely face an election challenge lead us as a nation.
Term limits would eliminate the Don Youngs and his ilk. Limit legislators to four terms, or in the Senate two terms. This will ensure new leadership every few years, a greater work ethic and Congress actually accomplishing an agenda, versus today’s senior leadership which provides little action but much talk.
Many states have term limits. Governors and even U.S. Presidents are term limited. Why should our federal Congress be exempt?

0 Replies to “Mike’s Musings: U.S. Congress needs term limits

  1. I agree with you on term limits for congress men and women. For the most part, it has worked well for our City Council, one of the few legislative bodies that has imposed term limits. You mention the seniority system in congress. I think this is why congressmen and women stay forever. The longer they stay, the higher up they can move, the more power they have, and (in theory) the better they can help their district. If I could set one rule in congress, I’d use a lottery system to pick committee chairs and committee assignments. I think that system would be more trusted by the general public because it would reduce the trading of favors, which as you know, gives the appearance of corruption, and make it easier for them to leave (after they’ve earned their pension of course).

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