term limits

Matt Lewis Is Right: Rand Paul Is Wrong on Term Limits, Here’s Why

(Editor’s note: this post first appeared on George Scoville’s personal blog.)

The Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis has a really important piece up this morning critiquing Rand Paul’s rhetoric on congressional term limits from Paul’s announcement of his 2016 presidential campaign yesterday. During his speech, Paul said, “We limit the president to two terms … It is about time we limit the terms of Congress.”

Here are the counterpoints Lewis offers (emphasis added):

14 Fixes For Our Messed Up Country

Everyone seems to be proposing fixes for our country lately, whether it’s amendments to repeal the First Amendment or ban gays or whatever. I have a few ideas of my own that I think will go a long ways towards restoring some sanity in government and fixing what’s wrong with our society. Some of these will require constitutional amendments, and I don’t expect the entire list to actually get enacted unless magic somehow returns to the world and we resurrect Barry Goldwater, F.A. Hayek, and George Washington all at once.

I originally drafted a list of some 23 ideas, but I figured that it would be way too long for a blog post, so I shortened it to 14, a baker’s dozen. None of these are simple or light fixes, they are not tweaking around the edges to ensure a marginally better outcome. Judging from the situation our government and economy is in, from the horrific hard place our civil liberties are wedged behind, and the unmanageable mess that is Washington, I don’t think that “moderate” or “conservative” changes will do anything. We cannot pussyfoot around the issue; we need radical alterations to how our government works if we’re going to get us out of this morass. Again, most of these may never pass, but that’s to be expected.

Certainly, if you wish to hear my entire list, let me know and I’ll write it up, but for now, here are my 14 ideas for fixing our country:

1. Establish Approval Voting

I’ve already talked about this idea at length here, so I will not bore you again. In this post, all I will say is that I believe if we are to get anything done—and I do mean anything—we need to systematically reform how people actually get into office. That’s the foundation upon which any democracy stands, and when you’re up to your eyeballs in tar, the only way to get that fixed is to drain the swamp and start at the beginning.

We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Term Limits

Since I missed out on the earmarks debate between Jason and Doug this week (I agree with Doug, btw), I figured now would be a good time to “stir the pot” with regard to a subject that seems to be gaining ground among many in the more “conservative” political circles.

The meme among many involved in politics is that because we limit the number of terms for the Presidency, most Governorships, and many municipal officials, we should also limit the terms of those serving in Congress.  The arguments are full of logic and seem to make a LOT of sense, and I think the idea is palatable for most Americans.  The idea that a Senator would only serve two terms or that a Congressman would serve four or six or eight terms, depending on which proposal you read or hear about.  My opposition lies, as do many things I find myself in the minority about, in the details.

Podcast: Health Care Mandate’s Stiff Penalty, Term Limits, Kelo vs. New London, Budget Deficit, Guest: Michael Frisbee

Jason and Brett were joined by Michael Powell as they interviewed Michael Frisbee, independent Congressional candidate for Georgia’s 13th district.

After an interview with Mr. Frisbee about his campaign, they discuss these issues:

You can download the podcast here (63 minutes/58 MB). The introduction music is once again “Silence is Violence” by the always lovely Aimee Allen.

No, we shouldn’t end presidential term limits

There was a firestorm late last year and into the beginning of this year over a proposed constitutional amendment introduced by Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY) that would have repealed the 22nd Amendment, which limits presidents to two terms in office.

Serrano has introduced this constitutional amendment in every Congress since 1997 — stretching back to Bill Clinton and George W. Bush’s presidencies. Other members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, have introduced similar proposals, though, none of them have ever been given serious consideration.

But on Friday, Jonathan Zimmerman, a history professor at New York University, revived the debate with an editorial at the Washington Post, in which he declared that presidential term limits should come to an end because it an impediment to accountability and, also, makes a president a lame duck:

Many of Obama’s fellow Democrats have distanced themselves from the reform and from the president. Even former president Bill Clinton has said that Americans should be allowed to keep the health insurance they have.

Lugar, Mourdock, and Term Limits

 Calvin and Hobbes is the work of the amazing (and unfortunately retired) Bill Watterson

On Tuesday, I mentioned the Republican primary election in Indiana, specifically the Senate race there. Longtime incumbent Richard Lugar was facing the possible end to his tenure in the Senate. The election results Tuesday evening brought a smile to my face as Lugar reached the end of his career as a senator. Since Lugar has been in the Senate for six terms, the topic of term limits was brought up by several friends.

It’s easy to see how the argument for term limits would sound good, especially when you consider how terrible Lugar was and how he managed to be re-elected all those years; but reasons against term limits still outweigh the reasons for them.

We don’t really need term limits in the House because unbeatable incumbents aren’t really a problem in the House. Sure, there are some people who have been in the House for a long time, but there’s less of a chance for a Congressman to get out of touch with his district because he is up for re-election every two years. And if he does get Beltway Syndrome, a campaign to beat him on the district level is much easier to do than a statewide race would be.

DeMint not running for re-election?

In a recent interview with the National Journal, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) hinted that he may not run for re-election when his term expires in 2016. Here is the relevant portion of the interview:

NJ What is your ambition?

DeMINT My hope is to elect five or 10 more solid conservatives and go home and rock on my front porch.

NJ This is your last term?

DeMINT Yeah. It was not a campaign promise; but that is my plan, that the election last year was my last one. It has always been my plan not to serve more than two terms.

Conn Carroll notes at the Washington Examiner that DeMint “hasn’t ruled out” another bid. DeMint has been a supporter of term-limits in the past, and I believe that he had limited himself to four-terms in the House before his Senate bid.

DeMint has said some things I disagree with, but he has criticized his own party when they’ve been wrong and been solid on fiscal issues and pushing for free markets and reforming the leviathan in Washington to reduce the burden that years of bureaucracy and the welfare state have placed on taxpayers.

Liberty Links: Morning Reads for Thursday, January 6th

Below is a collection of several links that we didn’t get around to writing about, but still wanted to post for readers to examine. The stories typically range from news about prominent figures in the liberty movement, national politics, the nanny state, foreign policy and free markets.

Reinvigorating The Term Limits Debate

Congressional term limits have been a dead letter since shortly after the Republican “revolution” of 1994, but Senator Jim DeMint is taking up the mantle:

Sen. Jim DeMint says Washington politicians are like fruit on the vine: the longer they hang around, the more rotten they get.

The South Carolina Republican - hearkening back to the days of the party’s “Contract with America” - on Tuesday offered a fix to the corrupting influence of “permanent politicians,” introducing an amendment to the Constitution that would limit Senate members to three six-year terms and House members to three two-year terms.

“As long as members have the chance to spend their lives in Washington, their interests will always skew toward spending taxpayer dollars to buy off special interests, covering over corruption in the bureaucracy, fundraising, relationship building among lobbyists, and trading favors for pork - in short, amassing their own power,” said Mr. DeMint, who is running for a second term next year.

Senate leaders and longtime Washington watchdogs said Mr. DeMint’s bill had a zero chance of becoming law, mostly because of a general lack of interest and the high hurdles to amending the Constitution.

“It’s a great issue to talk about, but it’s not going to happen,” said Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the Democratic majority’s second-highest ranking leader.

Chavez: A 21st Century Castro

As a citizen of the United States and the world, I am very concerned with the trends I am seeing in Venezuela. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez seems to be belligering the public into giving him more power:

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