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The flip side of term limits.

January 9, 2017

Underneath all the snark and boo-hoo babble, this election is actually about real issues.

One of those issues tied to the “Drain the Swamp”  narrative is term limits.

Ask any dozen ordinary people of either party what they think of term limits and most will initially agree with the idea in principle.

Upon further thought, some will note that if their state’s elected representatives are doing a really good job, they might not want to lose them.

Others point out that unlike the President and VP, the elected Congressional representatives are chosen specifically to represent state voters. Imposing Federal term limits might violate the line of separation between Federal and state powers.

The nuts and bolts

Term limits sounds simple, but in reality it is a constitutional issue.

The Constitution does not define the number of terms for the legislative branch of government, it only sets the length of each term between elections, meaning that this issue will require some sort of  constitutional amendment.

Critics of the lifetime tenure of some politicians point out that if term limits are enacted, there might also be a need to adjust the length of the terms for the House to those of the Senate, pointing out that the House members are essentially never out of campaign mode due to the two-year term defined in the First Amendment, Sections Two and Three .

That’s the logistics and legal side of the issue. There is another side, the practical side.

Any volunteers?

What no one seems to talk about is what happens if no one wants to run for the offices.

Many national congressional positions are not even contested in states which lean heavily one way or the other. While some of that is undoubtedly intra-party politics, it isn’t known how many times there are simply no volunteers.

Given the nastiness associated with this season’s political contests, why would anyone want to swim in that cesspool?

Even if there are those people now, are there enough to rotate in a whole Congress every six years?  How many of those can come up with the funds to run effective campaigns?

Granted, it doesn’t cost a billion dollars to run for the U.S. Senate or House, and it’s even less expensive if you start building a donor base early, perhaps running first as a city councilman or mayor.

Still, if you aren’t already pulling in a comfortable income, even a few thousand dollars can look pretty big when you are in your twenties and thirties.

If this election proved nothing else, it showed that the third-string bench is pretty thin for both of the two major parties.

As regular readers of this blog know, there were several dozen people out there who were engaged enough to follow the entire 2015-2016 campaign craziness through to its end.  They provided a lot of the man-and-woman-on-the-street commentary for almost 18 months.

It was inevitable that some of them speculated on running for office themselves, but not nearly as many as you might think. The ones that did were well north of 40 birthdays.

Some of that can be explained by the fact that younger people are still trying to get established in careers or have young families, but the thing is, most weren’t even mildly interested.

And that’s the fly in the term limits ointment.

As someone who initially backed Marco Rubio noted, the political party structure is geared toward discouraging youth.

What was the Bush faction’s main argument against Senator Rubio? That it “wasn’t his turn.” And he was 44 years old last year.

The chances that we will ever again see a pair of 70-year old candidates with the physical stamina to last (even if just barely) through the rigors of a grueling presidential campaign schedule are slim indeed.

This will be the oldest administration ever, and even these stalwarts will succumb to Father Time eventually.

Term limits and looking forward.

Of the two major parties, the Democrats have long been better at shaping their youth movement than the GOP.

In fact, directly after the election one of the first things you heard was that the Democratic Party’s goal for the next four years was to “develop and educate our youth.”

That they are already well into that is obvious from the number of college students already completely indoctrinated into the liberal mantra.

That’s not to say there aren’t conservative youth groups on campus as well, but they just don’t seem to have the same mentoring from the party poo-bahs as do the various liberal enclaves.

This upcoming generation and the millennial group preceding them should be the political bench for the next fifty years.  How many really will answer the call and seek careers in politics?

Probably only those picked for further development by their respective parties.

Ideally, you would hope that there would be a stronger contingent of independents to balance out party ideology, but right now, that appears unlikely.

Perhaps the next generation will step forward faster if they know that there is a succession plan in place that doesn’t involve funerals.

Term limits could bolster interest among tomorrow’s leaders. Upward mobility shouldn’t have to be limited to the private sector or a group of kingmakers.

From → op-ed

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