This is one issue I’ll admit I have vacillated on, “flip-flopped” as one might say in 2004. I remember debating this with other students in high school and writing a paper in favor of term limits. For some reason I had felt that not having term limits was no big deal, however. Those days are long gone. This recent highway-to-tax-increases bill, coupled with the gall of Ted Stevens to bitch and moan about a useless bridge when there are real issues to deal with, coupled with the cave to his seniority, has turned me sour to this idea of lifetime senators. I know, I know, it’s not in the constitution to limit the terms of a senator. The same was true for the executive branch until the excesses of FDR. We’ve talked a lot about “Souter”, how we’re afraid a judge will turn Souter after a while on the bench. I think Senate Republicans turn Byrd. Certainly Ted Stevens has.
Let me mention some words from Calvin Coolidge in his autobiography, on why he did not choose to run for president after 6 years in office:
“We draw our Presidents from the people. It is a wholesome thing for them to return to the people. I came from them. I wish to be one of them again.
Although all our Presidents have had back of them a good heritage of blood, very few have been born to the purple. Fortunately, they are not supported at public expense after leaving office, so they are not expected to set an example encouraging to a leisure class.
They have only the same title to nobility that belongs to all our citizens, which is the one based on achievement and character, so they need not assume superiority. It is becoming for them to engage in some dignified employment where they can be of service as others are.”
Our country does not believe in idleness. It honors hard work. I wanted to serve the country again as a private citizen.”
Me: Amazes me that four years later FDR was President, and in all his arrogance he trod all over the tradition that Washington set.
Now, even Republican candidates are not “from the people”, as in the case of Lincoln Chafee or Barbara Murkowski, who were appointed because they were offspring the previous Senators. Talk about term limits, how about generational limits? Now we must be content with training “our guys” to be career politicians from the get go, so they can get on the court at a young age (Alito) or change the culture in general (Bobby Jindal). But the further removed the politician is from the citizen, as we develop a prominent “politician class” the less able they are to represent ordinary people, in my opinion. Term limits would mix things up a bit, at least.
Posted at 10:04 pm by Johnny B