Letter: Term limits are bad for voters

Letter: Term limits are bad for voters

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How many times have you thought that placing a term limit on your legislator or even local elected official may help you to be better represented? Is it because that particular representative does not hold the same values as you, or is maybe in another political party? 

Maybe, term limits will help you be able to find someone who better represents you, or it will prevent you from being represented by someone you like but has just been in office for too long.

Running for office is a form of expression. Under the U.S. Constitution, most Americans can run for office. If term limits are implemented, we are simply saying; “this is your constitutional right, at least for a little while.” It is the job of the voter to remove legislators who are unfaithful to their constituencies, not the system. If we allow the system to remove legislators simply because they have been there too long, then we are denying the right of expression to the candidates and the right to choose representatives.

At the end of the day, policy making is a profession. The House of Representatives and Senate are both very complex and difficult to understand. The rules are ever changing and if you do not understand the rules nor procedure, a legislature can end up doing even less work than someone who has been in congress for three decades. 

According to the Brookings Institute, “even the most experienced of lawmakers is likely to have ambiguous provisions and loopholes that undermine the intended effects of the legislation.” Legislation is hard to understand. It is even harder to write in a way that guarantees loopholes are closed.

Oftentimes, people will cite money in politics as the reason for term limits. Incumbents can have decades worth of campaign funds saved up. When a challenger approaches that has not had the time to ammase the small fortune that the incumbent holds, it puts them at an immediate disadvantage. 

However, adding term limits will not take money out of politics and it will hardly work to “clean up” Capitol Hill. Citizens United v. FEC allows people or corporations to donate large sums of money to Political Action Committees (PAC)  which can be spent in its entirety to run advertisements in favor of political candidates or issues. PACs are oftentimes funded by corporations and then support candidates who back the interests of those corporations. This leads to the corruption that people so commonly despise.

While term limits may work in the short term, the gridlock that we see in the Capitol now will only be worsened. First year legislators will not be able to understand the rules in a way that long-time incumbents do. The legislation that would come out of a term limited Capitol will be full of loopholes that would ultimately work against the people, and allow for people to escape justice or pay their fair share in taxes. If you do not like your representative then vote them out. The voters have the power.