Former LA Governor Bobby Jindal has proposed term limits for all in Congress, and that is sounding better and better as time passes. The limitless terms render us being governed by an aristocracy that eventually loses track of who we are and what our lives are like to one or another degree. That they may also not miss the memories of what our lives are like is another subject.
We obviously limit Presidents to two four-year terms, so why do we permit Senators an unlimited number of six-year terms and Representatives an unlimited number of two-year terms. I seriously doubt that our Founding Fathers had any idea that the Constitution as they created it would lead to this given the current level of largess and technical achievement of the country, the state of the world and all the modern inventions created of which they couldn’t begin to conceive.
They traveled by horse or horse and buggy and that took days or weeks in some cases to get from the home to the Capitol. The idea that they could fly home for the weekend or brief breaks between sessions and campaign and renew friendships was foreign to them since they had limited modes of transportation available to them. Thus they did not have what has become essentially a perpetual Congress in session.
The limits could be defined in the number of terms or in total years and the Senate would probably think it was entitled to more years in office than those mere people in the House. Things of that nature would need to be resolved and that might take years to work through given the attitudes many seem to have that an office is “theirs” after occupying it for so long as they tend to do.
Staggering the limits would help to secure “institutional memory” so that new members would have people upon whom they could rely for background, historical overviews, etc. We could limit Senators to two terms (12 years total) and Congressmen and women to six terms (12 years total) for starters. I would probably see the potential for a former Senator or former Congressperson to be re-elected after having sat out for a term or two, as well if his or her constituents wanted them back in office. They would then begin a new series of limited terms.
The Congressional Aristocracy can be seen daily while Congress is in session. These are people who are the elites of the elite…at least too many are of that mindset. The haughtiness of a Chuck Schumer or that Prima Dona attitude of a Nancy Pelosi might not occur if they had limits. Freshmen and Sophomore members of the House and Senate would be far less likely to have created their own little cabals as we see rampant in today’s Halls of Congress.
The change-over would likely clear staff members from being staff-in-perpetuity as is now the case. I wonder how many staffers actually serve as de facto Congressmen or Congresswomen; I suspect it would be a surprisingly large number if we were ever to learn the truth. So we may well have what we might call a Shadow Congress comprised of non-elected people who are the brains of those whom we do elect.
If that staffer or those staffers have their own ideas about governance, as I suspect they would as part of the fabric of Congress, could it not be possible that we actually are being governed by the keepers rather than those whom we elect? Might this be part of The Swamp thus helping us better understand why we elect people who spout one set of ideas and yet get something quite different once those ideas are vetted in Washington, D.C.?
While we’re at it, maybe we ought to limit the terms of employees of those in Congress in order to really “drain the swamp”. That might help us to finally wrap our hands around the true power in Washington, and effectively control it through both limits on the terms of elected officials and on the employment periods of the employees of elected officials. That would help to bring an end to the era of the Congressional Aristocracy.