In 1787, both Thomas Jefferson and George Mason advised limits on re-election to the Senate and to the presidency because, said Mason, “Nothing is so essential to a Republican government as a periodic rotation.”
By the end of the 20th century, “homesteading,” or securing a lifelong career in Congress, was made possible by re-election rates that approached 100 percent. This reality has led to our nation being transformed from a democracy into what amounts to an oligarchy consisting of career politicians who by-and-large gradually lose their understanding of the real world that exists beyond the Washington Beltway.
The mounting and counter-productive political gridlock in Washington supports the increasingly strong argument for a well-coordinated effort by all the states to renew efforts to draft and pass an amendment to our Constitution setting mandatory term-limits for members of both houses of Congress.
As it is wasted effort to require representatives to have to run for office every two years, the amendment that I propose would correct this problem as well, as illustrated in the draft below.
“Article 28: The Constitution of the United States of America is hereby amended in order to set term limits for members of both houses of Congress as follows: United States senators shall in their lifetime serve no more than two six-year terms in office; and members of the House of Representatives shall in their lifetime serve no more than two four-year terms in office. Said terms in office need not be served consecutively; and nothing in this amendment would preclude a representative who has served all or a part of his or her full time in office from running for the Senate, or a senator from running for a seat in the House of Representatives.
“In the event that a sitting senator or representative is no longer able to serve the full term he or she was elected to, for whatever reason, then his or her replacement shall be chosen by the party in the chamber he or she had been elected to to complete the remaining term in office. Said replacement would be eligible to serve no more than one additional term.”
It took until 1951 and the 22nd Amendment to the United States Constitution to formally establish in law a two-term limit for the presidency, and it is my hope that it will not take another 167 years to pass another amendment limiting the number of terms a senator or representative can serve in office to two as well.