The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Third Option–Term Limits

Posted on | February 5, 2013 | 40 Comments

by Smitty

The Instapundit in USAToday:

There are two possible ways to address this problem. One is to elect people that everyone trusts. The problem with that is that there aren’t any politicians that everyone trusts — and, alas, if there were, the odds are good that such trust would turn out to be misplaced.
The other option is to place less power within the political sphere. The less power the government has, the less incentive for corruption, and the less that can go wrong when the government misbehaves. The problem with this approach is that the political class likes a powerful government — it’s one of the reasons that the Washington, DC, area, where much of the political class lives, is beginning to resemble the Capital City in The Hunger Games, prospering while the rest of the country suffers.

Maybe it’s a variation on the second option, but I predict that the 22nd Amendment is expanded upon to cover Congress, and perhaps even the SCOTUS, in the next couple of decades. As Director Blue pointed out a couple of years ago, incumbency has bred a Ruling Class, and substantially corrupted the Founder’s idea of self-rule. This is disastrous on at least two fronts:

  1. There is no way, given a 300 million+ population, that the number fit to hold office is that small. We can’t be that hurting for talent.
  2. There is no excuse for our system of government to overgrow itself to the point that it takes a professional cadre with a lifetime of knowing where the bodies are buried in order to operate the thing. No. We keep it simple, and we swap out the people in charge at a reasonable frequency so that the playing field stays level.

The bad news is that the voters chose to run us hard aground last November. The good news is that the goal for what to do, restore our Constitution to a representative state, is a straightforward. The exact path we take to get there, whether through or around the GOP, remains to be seen.

Update: linked by Jackie Wellfonder.

Update II: linked by Bob Belvedere.


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  • Robert Evans

    While I support term limits, I can foresee it causing the destruction of the 2nd Amendment. Term-limited politicians will have more backbone to vote for gun control than careerists.

  • Bob Belvedere

    In the past I have argued against term limits because I believe we should be able to keep someone in office as long as we want of he is doing a great job. Of course, for this to work, we have to conduct ourselves like adults.

    However, we, the Sovereign People, have [of our own Free Will – no one forced us to] become corrupted in our thinking and willingly reverted to mewing and puking infants.

    Since we can no longer be trusted to exercise Virtue, we must be treated like the juveniles we are, so I am in favor of Term Limits.

    SIDENOTE: Our current state makes us vulnerable to the charms of a Caesar, which is exactly what we have gotten.

  • Bob Belvedere

    Smitty wrote: …but I predict that the 22nd Amendment is expanded upon to cover Congress, and perhaps even the SCOTUS, in the next couple of decades

    Trouble is: we don’t have decades.

    The rubber has, indeed, met the road. This is the moment where the fate of The American Experiment hangs in the balance. Will we choose Empire or Republic?

  • McGehee

    Only if every term-limited politician dies at the end of his last term.

    In the real world, they have to go back home to a constituency that knows where they live.

  • smitty

    I’m past thinking there is any sort of soft grounding before us. I hope, as usual, I’m wrong, but this 100 year anniversary of Wilson is likely to be remembered as The Year That Sucked.

  • smitty

    That’s at least an interesting argument, but I’d contend that greater turnover would ease the shenanigans, like going after the Bill of Rights.

  • Groty1

    We no longer share a common vision for the country. Fresh from the ideas written about by the Enlightenment writers, the country was founded on the notion of individual liberty and equality of opportunity. And during the Civil War, both sides believed they were fighting for those principles. The northern abolitionists said treating enslaved blacks as property was antithetical to liberty. The pro-slave south said that they did not create the slave system, they inherited it and that enslaved blacks were human chattel. To the slaveowner, asking him to free his slave was like asking a northerner to relinquish the title to the land he owned, or to set free the chickens that supplied him his eggs or the dairy cow that supplied him his milk and butter. It’s harsh to think of it in those terms, but I think that’s the reality.

    As perverted as it may seem to us today, both sides went to war believing they were fighting for their concepts of liberty and opportunity.

    Republicans and limited government folks, generally, share the founding vision for individual liberty and equality of opportunity. To me, redistributionist policies, no matter how noble or humanitarian they seem on their face, are antithetical to both liberty and equality of opportunity. As Milton Friedman described it, “when A&B (legislators) decide how much to take from C to give to D”, you’ve created a system that relies on the coercive force of government to deprive C of his property (his liberty) not for public consumption but to benefit D exclusively. So the redistributionist vision is diametrically opposed to liberty and equality of opportunity. Instead, its equlity of outcome that is important to the redistributionists. The way I see it, if one party is travelling east, and the other party is going west, there is only one point on the line where they share common ground, and we’re well past that point. There is no longer common ground. One side has to surrender their worldview, and the numbers appear to favor the redistributinists.

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  • Bob Belvedere

    Ahhh…but should we embrace the suck???

  • Rob Crawford

    What do you do about the staffers? They’ll become the permanent governing class — the “fresh faces” we elect will be steered to hire the “best people” and they’ll get handled into conformity.

  • Adobe_Walls

    Think of it as an opportunity to clear out the dead wood.

  • smitty

    Let them eat cake.

  • McGehee

    I’d find it fun to frustrate the handlers at every excuse.

  • Evi L. Bloggerlady

    Unfortunately it has to pass a gauntlet of politicians who have a conflict of interest in the voting/ratification process of that amendment before it goes to the states. .

  • Adobe_Walls

    Quite right, they along with the lobbyists actually write legislation. They school the new comers “how things work around here”. The staff are the nuts and bolts of tyranny.

  • Quartermaster

    Honor is a concept that has been lost both by the politicians and the people. When an immoral people rise to power, they don’t long keep it. A strong man will come along that will buy them off, and they’ll march into the slaughter house like the sheep they are.

  • Mr. Michael

    This is why I don’t support Term Limits for elected officials. On the other hand, I DO support term limits for staff, both in the elected office and in the Bureaucracy. Too much power in the hands of unelected movers and shakers like Karl Rove and Valerie Jarret. Let the People have whomever they wish to elect… but clean out the Bureaucracy on a regular basis.

  • Dai Alanye

    “incumbency has bread a Ruling Class…”

    I say, make toast of all thus bread. [Or bred, for that matter.]

  • Shawn Gillogly

    The 22nd Amendment ‘definitely’ should include SCOTUS. The Supreme Court does not function as designed, and has in fact, become more imperial than the Executive because of its lifetime tenures.

    12 years per person per branch. Maximum. 2 terms in Senate, or 3 in the House, 1 in the Senate. Give a 3rd term to the White House in exchange for breaking the Iron Triangle.

  • gvanderleun

    “I predict that the 22ndAmendment is expanded….” Ah me, ah my, Smitty, Smitty, Smitty…. unfortunate lad. You still do not perceive just how deeply the fix is in. To get the fix out will not require time. It will require ammunition and high explosives.

  • DaveO

    Law of unintended results meets human nature: whether the term is limited to 12, 6, 4, or 2 years only compacts the amount of time a congresscritter can pack self-enriching legislation and secure a sweet sinecure from a donor.

    No governance, just speed-looting.
    It would be better to remove all those rules and laws that keep a congresscritter from being prosecuted from breaking the law, and doing away with the farce that is the Ethics Committees.

  • DaveO

    Instead of limiting the terms of the congresscritters, why not limit suffrage to land/homeowners, or some other attributes that ensure the voter has skin in the game?

    You can’t fix Congress until you fix the folks who vote for Congress.

  • Adobe_Walls

    I recommend decimation once a week for ten weeks.

  • smitty

    If people are taxed, they should have a say.

  • smitty

    It may be that you’re right, but allow me to hope otherwise.

  • smitty

    Whoops! Thank you. I hate to blow my argument with inane typos.

  • Bob Belvedere

    Thanks for the linkback, Admiral.

  • Bob Belvedere

    Damn well put, QM.

  • Bob Belvedere

    Watching the shows Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister are very educational.

  • gvanderleun

    I shall allow you to hope for, as the poet says, “Hope is the thing with feathers.”

    On the other hand my old grand pappy used to say, “Son, hope in one hand, shit in the other, and see which one fills up first.”

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  • Bob Belvedere

    Ahhh…but should we embrace the suck???

  • rightactions

    Ah yes, the favourite programmes of Maggie, her Iron Ladyness.

    By the way, California has had term limits for its legislature for about a quarter-century. For its governor and judges, even longer. So ya’ gotta ask, how’s that workin’ out for California?

    Term limits isn’t the answer to lazy voters.

  • rightactions

    Don’t be so eager to follow California’s lead this time.

  • rightactions

    You betcha. I expect to be getting a vote by mail ballot from every locality I’ve paid hotel tax in.

    My expectations are frequently frustrated. /sarc.

    Seriously, is paying a tax sufficient “skin in the game”? Maybe not. Justice requires that a voter faces real consequences for casting a vote for stupid stuff other than sticking around or paying a price (in hassle, if nothing else) to pull up stakes and flee.

  • rightactions

    Eager to follow California’s lead, are you?