Making America Great Again–Term Limits

President-elect Trump wants to impose term limits on Congress–that would take a highly unlikely constitutional amendment but highly unlikely things do happen occasionally. Even if not imposed, the renewed demand for term limits provides further evidence for the conflict theory of term limits (and here).

Imagine that there are two rival coalitions in a region and that each fears the other will gain and hold on to power for an extended period of time. This fear can be motivated by two factors. First, the longer a coalition expects to be in power the more likely it is to exploit another coalition. Or, to put the issue the other way, the greater the expected rotation of power the less likely the presently ruling coalition is to exploit other coalitions. Until May of 1994 South African blacks had little legal political power. Nevertheless, as the prospect of future black political power increased the South African government became constrained in its actions towards South African blacks. The prospect of black power in the future moderated white power today. Second, if coalitions are risk averse they will prefer to rotate power with rival coalitions, and in this way share the spoils of governing rather than gamble upon winning or losing all political power for a lengthy period of time. Term limits are one method of increasing the rotation of political power.

When a politician’s term is over the election for the open seat is more competitive than it would be if an incumbent were running. By increasing the number of open-seat elections term limits increase the rotation of power….The probability of a rotation of power is five times more likely in the House and nearly three times more likely in the Senate in an open election than in an election with an incumbent. Thus, incumbency advantage has an enormous impact on party rotation. Term limits, in fact, were historically referred to as the “rotary system” or the principle of “rotation in office” (Benton 1854, Petracca 1992). From this perspective the benefit of term limits is not the termination or limitation of current politicians but rather the expectation that new politicians will rotate into power. The conflict theory does not connect support for term limits with dissatisfaction with current politicians and, in the conflict theory, voting against current politicians is not a substitute for term limits.

…The conflict theory implies that the more political conflict there is in a region the greater the demand for term limits.

Comments

Many US states have term limits and I haven't seen any literature showing states with term limits are better run than similar states without. Wouldn't that be a better comparison?

You'd have to define 'run better' and contrive measures which can differentiate the effect of rotation-in-office from other factors.

The utility of rotation-in-office is that it inhibits the decay of state legislatures into fiefdoms run by bosses. A figure like Shelly Silver could not survive in such a regime. It also inhibits the formation of a class of professional politicians who glide from office-holding into lobbying, which is a huge problem in Washington.

I think you'll discover that people whose professional life is enmeshed in studying or reporting on legislative bodies tend to be advocates for the interests of legislators-as-a-class. It's a process sort of like agency capture. George Will and (IIRC) Stanley Brubaker have been exceptions, bu they've been in the odd minority within academic political science who are generically skeptical of government programs.

It also inhibits the formation of a class of professional politicians who glide from office-holding into lobbying, which is a huge problem in Washington.

To the contrary, rotation-in-office likely exacerbates the revolving door, because legislators don't even have the option of simply remaining in office, so have greater incentive to write complex rules during their term that they can then be hired to help navigate.

To the contrary, rotation-in-office likely exacerbates the revolving door, because legislators don’t even have the option of simply remaining in office,

They can go back to their previous career, as Mark Foley did. See what Jerry Springer had to say about why he left political life: "I didn't want to do it as a career. If you're doing it to put bread on the table, you'll say anything. Most of these guys haven't practiced law in 25 years. They'd been incompetent. They go into lobbying because that's what they know'.

Or, even better, we can have late-middle aged politicians who will be ready to retire once they leave office.

Sure defining your terms is important. Still you make a number of bold claims about effects with no evidence. Citations?

Those aren't bold claims. Those are commonsensical claims, as a review of Sheldon Silver's biography would show you.

Any electoral or structural change has to be examined to see who gains power. Term limits are an attempt institutionalize the job that electors should be doing, watching and holding the people they elect accountable.

I suspect that the party apparatus gains from term limits as opposed to the electorate. You can't stay in power via serving your constituents, but you can accumulate power by coming up with a series of representatives who can get elected. A party machine that maintains a stable of presentable and obedient candidates, has connections to money and organization to get the vote out will become more established and less accountable than a politician who has been in power too long.

You can’t stay in power via serving your constituents, but you can accumulate power by coming up with a series of representatives who can get elected.

Depends on the social relations of the area and the institutional set up for ballot access. The US is not Canada. You don't have party bosses who can slate candidates most places. You do have fundraising networks and knowledge of process. The thing is, when you're talking the state legislature, money is not all that important. The reason many incumbents have an easy time of it is that no one puts much effort into defeating them.

And no one votes them out. The returns to an organized group is higher if incumbents have no advantage.

California has term limits and it has empowered money and party.

There are quite a few examples of long serving representatives who send their constituents. As well as long serving representatives who serve themselves.

I would rather that there be direct accountability for the decisions made. If a representative votes legislation that borrows money their assets and income are collateral.

Derek, California is a demographic behemoth with very large electoral constituencies. Break the state into four units, elect just the lower house of the legislatures, have the upper houses elected by caucuses of the lower houses, put the upper houses to work on administrative rules, and have electoral constituencies with 45,000 people in them rather than 300,000.

Derek, see Delaware

Considering that support is often more at the party level than support for the specific candidates, I don't see that as being a bad thing from the perspective of success being potentially more closely linked to the organizational structure which attracts resources instead of just blindly voting for the incumbent all the time.

Perhaps there would be some concern about more wastage in advertising that goes nowhere, with both parties just spending more money to neutralize the additional spending of the other though ...

I don't doubt that incumbency has its advantages, but it also has its disadvantages: incumbents choose not to run because they expect to lose. Of course, all House members and all Senators have term limits, two years for the House members and six years for Senators. Precluding incumbents from seeking re-election denies voters the option of re-electing the incumbent, which I would describe as anti-democratic. Moreover, inexperienced lawmakers tend to be less informed lawmakers, and more dependent on special interests, and less inclined to work harmoniously with fellow legislators. That's certainly been the case in Florida (which adopted term limits years ago). Indeed, in Florida, the leadership in both chambers (House Speaker and Senate President) are elected years in advance, meaning they will have served in the legislature for very short times before they are elected to leadership positions. Quality has definitely suffered, while conflicts of interest have increased - leaders are elected not according to their skills and policies (they don't serve long enough to make that determination) but because of who supports them (and their supporters) financially. If the goal is to increase the influence of special interests, then term limits are a good strategy.

Having worked in my state's legislature (before term limits), I can confidently say there are two types of legislators: those who spend their time learning a particular state function over which the legislature has oversight and those who spend their time learning how to get free media attention. With term limits, there are more of the latter, fewer of the former; what's the payoff for a term-limited legislator for learning a particular state function. Passing the budget is by far the most important function of the legislature, knowing the details of state agencies essential to a good budget. The budget is grueling work, often with hearings late into the night. What's the payoff for that, other than good government. Term limits have all but eliminated legislators willing to devote the effort to be anything other than media magnets.

Curious. Which state ?

If they are likely to be termed out how does the media attention help ? I thought the primary function of the media attention was to help with re-election.

Based on your experience , how can one reduce gerrymandering?

The House is a stepping-stone to the Senate, the Senate a stepping-stone to the US House or a state-wide office (cabinet, governor, or US Senate). From there, the next step is President or Vice-President. A very young politician can go from the state House, to state House Speaker, to US Senator, to a run for the presidency with an almost blank record of legislative accomplishments, the absence of a record of accomplishments more of a plus than a negative.

Good points. You may be right . But for Term limits , may be we would not have been pining for Rubio to be the last establishment hope to block Trump.

As for Rubio, Trump proved him to be an empty suit, with no record of accomplishment other than successfully obtaining ever higher office. If Rubio could have made a case for himself based on his record of accomplishment, maybe he could have defeated Trump. But he couldn't, because he doesn't.

>"A very young politician can go from the state House, to state House Speaker, to US Senator, to a run for the presidency with an almost blank record of legislative accomplishments"

Is this an intentional rip on Barack Obama?

Or is it just another case of how describing the world around us often resembles a rip on Barack Obama?

Rubio lies. He's not the sharpest tack in the Congress box. He does, however, have the sort of people skills by which politicians prosper. That's why he was speaker of the lower house of the Florida legislature.

What's a "legislative accomplishment"? Sponsoring a bill, maybe? Voting aye or nay on one? There really is no such thing as an individual legislative accomplishment, legislators are members of a group and things are decided by majorities, not individuals.

I don’t doubt that incumbency has its advantages, but it also has its disadvantages: incumbents choose not to run because they expect to lose.

No, only incumbents who garner public attention and preside over obvious failures lose. Occupants of executive positions lose. U.S. Senators can lose. These aside, you get re-election rates of 95% and up.

The only thing worse than a professional politician, is an unprofessional one.

If competition is lacking, then get rid of gerrymandering.

... "Unprofessional Politicians" (average citizens) might be a good choice for government office.

The ancient Greek Athenian (original) Democracy greatly distrusted electoral systems, considering them a dangerous path to oligarchy.

The Athenian legislative branch consisted of a Council of 500 and an Assembly of 6000. Neither body had elected representatives. The Council members were selected not by election but by sortition – a random lottery from the (male) citizen population. No Councilor could serve more than two terms.

As the Athenians saw it, under an electoral system no one can obtain political office unless he is already well known, wealthy, powerful, and/or clever enough to deceive voters -- thus giving them an unfair advantage over the average person.

Electoral systems are fundamentally non-democratic. Random selection of citizens to serve their community on a rotating basis was considered the ideal democracy.

Reminds me of that William F. Buckley quote: "I'd rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University."

Gerrymandering's not that important most places. Information deficits are. You'd need a constitutional amendment to remove most of the discretion in districting (and distribute the residual discretion to local authorities).

Or just remove Congressional districts completely. There's no Constitutional basis for their existence. Proportional representation is a far better system.

Yes please proportional representation seems like it would be far better.

Alex - when do you plan to do a post on the possibility of trump bringing back the US Space Program?

Mission to Mars - Make America Great Again!

Theil and Musk's relationship suggests a non-zero chance of this happening. Gingrich's presence in Trump's inner circle is also a positive sign. I wouldn't bet on it, because space isn't very important to any politician, but we're as well situated as we've been in decades.

http://www.businessinsider.com/peter-thiel-elon-musk-is-the-most-impressive-paypal-mafia-member-2015-3

Term limits means an increased supply of former legislators for appointed government agency positions, lobbyists and business management jobs. Former legislators presently move in to these spots but term limits would mean that more of these spots could be filled. The former legislators would see an increase in compensation. They would like term limits.

Term limits in Congress would also mean shifting power to unelected staffers.

It would shift no power to staffers. It might shift influence to staffers depending on how the staffers are recruited and depending on what sort of issues Congress tackles. If you're continually passing 1,000 page legislative lallapaloozas laden with lobbyist carve-outs, staffers will be important. Question: why are you doing that?

The beneficiaries of term limits would be regulatory agencies and lobbyists, who would enjoy asymmetries of experience and information that would allow them to manipulate their comparatively naive legislative counterparts.

It's difficult exercise effective oversight of an agency's whose workings you don't have time to master.

That's the usual bitch. The trouble with that is, how did those agencies come by their authority to begin with? Well, the legislature composed skeletal legislation and then told them to fill in the blanks.

Actually, at the state level, the regulatory aspect of the state is not obtrusive bar in conservation, health and safety, insurance, banking, education, and social services. These are areas ripe for devolution and deregulation.

1,000 pages is quite the exaggeration. The link below should list the 244 bills passed by the current Congress & signed by Obama. Most don't come anywhere close to 1,000 pages & reading them makes it understandable they would be as long as they are.

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/browse?status=28,29,32,33&sort=-current_status_date

Then Prove Term Limits works. Now we have a situation we force out people that are doing a good job. (Look in the case of President 2016!) In reality, the causes more turnover in government and puts more lobbyist in charge because nobody has any true experience.

True experience is not needed. A class of professional politicians is an abomination. It's an accepted myth that duration in office makes the elected more effective in their constituents' interests. Prove it.

Who is doing a good job? The Congress we have cannot pass an ordinary budget or a set of appropriations bills. In New York, all decisions over fiscal policy are made by three guys in a room.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan is dead.

I doubt Trump's support for term limits for congress is more than little vengeance for Paul Ryan's lack of support and some leveraged to them to support his agenda.

Why? Trump's position on this is perfectly ordinary.

Liberal derangement is strong in this one.

The level of unhinged in liberals is something to see. I'm so happy, pinch me!

True. Equally it seems aimed at congress members like Dianne Feinstein, John Conyers and others who have been out to pasture for a long time and are simply beyond capable of being anything but a useful idiot for someone else.

A small sample: http://nailheadtom.blogspot.com/2012/12/californias-most-prominent-politicians.html

We have term limits.

They're called elections.

And, yet, the public favors term limits. Elections are damaged by information deficits and incumbents benefit from those deficits. Also, people are seldom so alienated from a legislator that they'll cast a ballot for a party they do not favor.

Here's a suggestion: a constitutional amendment which makes rotation-in-office the default option at all levels. Four year terms, no office held for more than 10 years in any bloc of 12, and no candidacies by anyone who would reach the 10 year limit sometime during their elected 4 year term. States who wish to opt out can do so via a referendum. Such a referendum could be called via petition Once it's held, the question would be closed for a period of say, six years. However, a referendum affirming the opt-out would have to be held at least once every 30 years, or the state would revert to the default option.

Over the last few decades we saw the Congress go from Democratic under Clinton, to Republican, then back to Democratic during Bush then really Democratic at the start of Obama back to Republican.

As a whole how can you say there isn't a rotation of some sort going on? Clearly this type of turnover cannot happen if everyone just automatically wins re-election (actual party switches are relatively rare).

The power rule implies that naturally you will find many people who serve one or a few terms but a small minority will be long term people who spend their entire lives in Congress. That isn't an inherent problem. History is full of successful long term Congressmen who did great things but never went beyond Congress to the White House.

You're talking about rotation of party control (which, by the way, we did not see between 1932 and 1995), which can be had with flipping a couple of dozen seats out of 400-odd.

True but what is the purpose to be accomplished here by term limits?

Certainly you are not arguing there differences in policy between what party controls congress is trivial.

No. I'm talking about the dispositions of legislators. The longer they're there, the greater the bias toward spending (see Hal Rogers), the deeper the relationships with lobbyists, the more likely they are to pursue lobbying as a career after retirement from Congress. You should never have careers like Trent Lott's (who was on the payroll of the U.S. Congress from the time he finished law school in 1967 to the time he departed Congress for a lobbying firm in 2006). AM McConnell, Barney Frank, etc. These people are poison.

I think ideology is a better indicator for whether or not a congressperson votes for or against different types of spending than how long they've been in Congress.

As for whether or not they will become a lobbyist after they finish with congress. Assuming that is something we should be trying to manage, it seems pretty simple to me that if you're forcing experienced people to leave congress because of term limits that adds to their incentive to go after lobbying careers. Neither Tip O'Neil, Bob Dole, or Ted Kennedy became lobbyists. Nor did Barney Frank. Was Jesse Helms 'poison' too?

It sounds like you are confusing people you don't like ideologically with poison. Also you are confusing the fact that many long term politicians will be people you dislike with term limits as a solution. Power law says that you'll only get a few exceptional people among the long termers but the question is do we want to eliminate the possibility? Should the NBA or NFL have 'term limits'?

I'm not sure term limits addresses the problem. Currently, one of the best ways for a sociopath to get rich is to go into politics. My state rep, for example, has no skills that I can identity. His father owns a lot of rental property, but the son never could get the hang of working so he went into politics. Since we permit state reps to work in other jobs, this state rep now sits on boards, does consulting and other work for which he is unqualified. People are just buying influence by putting him in no show jobs.

At the Federal level, this happens in a different way. Let's assume my state rep decides to aim higher and becomes a congressman. He will immediately be given access to insider deals where he can make a killing in the markets. His wife will get a six figure job somewhere. After a decade in DC, he will be well off and ready to take a job on K Street or Wall Street. Eric Cantor was voted out and landed in a seven figure job at an investment bank.

Term limits does not fix this problem unless the terms are so short the politician is unable to get rich in his term.

I would rather see proportional at large voting. Take some or all of a state's Congressional delegation and vote for them as a slate. If a state has 15 representatives, you get 15 votes. Put them all on one person or spread them out as you see fit. Those with the top 15 votes win.

You end gerrymandering and at the same time you appeal to both the moderate middle and minority voters. Moderates will spread their votes around while those who feel passionately about a minority issue (whether seeing racial minority representation or a niche issue like anti-abortion representation in a state that's mostly pro-choice like NY or CA) can ensure they get some representation by concentrating their votes on one or two candidates who carry their convictions.

If you insist then you can have a state divide between some geographical representatives (larger districts make gerrymandering harder) and the rest at large.

You don't need PR to avoid most of the problems of gerrymandering, and you have to have some avenue for constituent service. A great deal of manpower in congressioinal offices is devoting to helping ordinary people navigate the bureaucracy.

How would that change? A large state could split so you keep some geographic representation (CA for example could have a NoCA and SoCA slate). But even without that a Rep that build a reputation for excellent constituent service could build a niche of voters. If someone is really good at that, then why would you deny the whole state his potential help?

This violates the intent of the House, which was intended to be the most democratic and speak for the people. Having parties select congressman based on proportional voting makes the House less democratic.

Gerrymandering is only a problem when Democrats are the minority, which means it is not really a problem. The bigger issue is the foolish mistake of the 17th amendment. Fix that and the power of Washington will be greatly diminished, thus bringing each state's political talent back home.

parties wouldn't select congressmen, voters would. Each voter gets 15 votes. Yes perhaps each party would nominate 15 people each and if you were a straight party voter you would just vote down the line but you would have the power to poll your votes. If you like the more liberal or more conservative set of the 15 more, you can pool your votes so the top 3 get 5 of your votes rather than straight 15.

Likewise 3rd party candidates would have more opportunity as well.

This is quite in line with the House being the voice of the people.

What you describe is not proportional representation and it would quickly devolve into a contest between parties. This has been the result everywhere proportional voting has been tried. Something close to your system is in place in some states for selecting local judges. The result is party line slates.

If you really want to *fix* the House, you go about it from the opposite end. The qualifications need to change. Candidates for the House have to have lived in their district for ten consecutive years. The age range is 35-65. They must be on the property tax roles for there district. The burden of proof would be on the candidates, as far as meeting the criteria. Interested candidates would offer their name and five are drawn at random to run for the seat. The result is a citizen legislature of part time members with a limited ability in a life living off the tax payers.

I'm not quite clear how you get 'party line politics'. Leave aside the fact that is what we already got. Red states and Blue states. Proportional voting would short circuit that IMO.

If every voter simply voted the party line and you have more of one than the other then yes you have a pure party state. But why would voters do that? If you were a Republican in a Blue state like NY you would probably be inclined to bunch your votes for one or two Republicans to ensure you have at least a little representation in the Blue tide. Ditto for Democrats living in deeply Red States.

Parties might try to counter this by launching ballots with more candidates than available seats. Say each party put forth 20 candidates in the hopes that no matter who wins they have as few voters defecting from the party as possible ("Don't vote Blue, we'll make sure there's something for everyone in the Texas Republican ballot....want a pro-choice pro-SSM guy, we have one out of the 20!")

This would make the parties less partisan and by definition give the voters more of a selection.

I'm not sure why greater residency requirements would help the House. That doesn't change the fact that the districts are tightly gerrymandered. IMO the reason we are getting worse and worse partisanship is not because House members don't represent their district but because districts are being crafted to reward partisanship more and more.

It would eliminate the regionalism that is one of the defining features of our current system

Only if the voters don't care about regionalism. If voters found, say, "Northern New Jersey" has concerns that the south doesn't, they could pool their votes towards candidates they feel have a proper 'North Jersey Mindset".

More importantly the US Constitution (see https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/articlei) doesn't define House Congressional districts. It only mandates that House members be elected (Senators were chosen by state legislatures in the original Constitution). Show me where the US Constitution defines regionalism as a major feature of the system in the context of regionalism inside a state rather than between states!

Re: Gerrymandering is only a problem when Democrats are the minority, which means it is not really a problem.

Huh? There's a court case in Maryland brought by the GOP against the Democrats for gerrymandering.

The larger problem with gerrymandering is that it increases partisanship on both sides. While Republicans and Democrats will cry when gerrymandering is done by the other party, when the dust settles both would rather have districts where they feel safer from challenge by the opposite ideology. In the pre-computer era this was more difficult to pull off as trying to draw maps down to the block level to craft pure red or blue districts was very difficult.

Single Transferrable Vote could achieve the goals of proportional voting while still having the members of Congress chosen directly by their constituents. Five members per district would suffice to eliminate or greatly reduce the importance of how the districts are drawn.

In addition, Republicans absolutely see a problem with gerrymandering in states where it does not favor them.

I'm not quite following how that would work. Are you saying each district would be large enough to cover 5 Representatives thereby keeping the size of a district large enough to make it hard to draw them in a way to make them 'pure red' or 'pure blue'? It seems you could pull off such a feat with enough computing power....you may have end up with districts that look like a bowl of spaghetti.

Even if they keep the rules for drawing the districts the same as now, current rules give 1 person 100% of the representing regardless of whether they win 55% or 80% of the district. Five member districts under Single Transferable Vote would result in 55% districts going 3-2 & 80% going 4-1, if they stay a 2-party system. Say for example, a region has 10 A's & 10 B's and need to divide into 4 districts. Under our current winner-take-all system, you could make the district 2, 2, 2, & 4 A's with 3, 3, 3, & 1 B's. This would give A's 1 rep & B's 3 reps; this is how gerrymandering makes things less representative. However, if they tried that under 5-member STV districts, it would give 10 A's & 10 B's, undoing the effects of gerrymandering. As a bonus, it would give people someone who represents them, even if they are in the minority in their districts.

In addition, because it is a form of ranked-choice-voting, votes for 3rd parties cease being wasted votes, so people could feel freer to vote 3rd party. If one person got 20% of the first place votes, that person would get 1 seat, which could allow 3rd parties to get Congressional seats & build a brand to compete with the 2 major parties.

We need an Article V convention.

So we can ban the N*gger party from office once and for all!

The idea upsets me because an Article V convention might adopt an amendment requiring the imprisonment of the irredeemably ugly.

I suspect that nothing will change, because the people have only a mild interest in alternatives, and our public servants have a strong interest in keeping the status quo.

I see no plan to incentivize term limits or anything else.

But we don't observe elected officials actually implementing term limits. We see candidates for office who wish to portray themselves as outsiders PROPOSE term limits during their election campaign.

A much better theory is that term limits are something that sounds good to a voter who is disappointed with the current governing coalition. A kind of voter who is pretty much always in good supply.

If I were Trump I wouldn't waste my time and energy on this. In the end it won't happen. The barriers to this change are too great. BUT for the good of the country we probably should have some limits. The problem is as simple as this; a good politician is a good thing for the country and the longer a good politicians can stay in office and increase his power the better it is for America. Conversely a bad politicians is a bad thing for the country and the longer they stay in office and increase their power the worse it is for America.

In the end it is up to the voters to vote out the bad leaders and retain the good ones. The problem is that the bad ones consistently buy votes with promises of looting the treasury and handing out free stuff if you elect him. I blame the Supreme court for this. They have been too timid and unwilling to reign in extra-constitutional laws and actions by the congress and administration. This is all the more ironic because the very same court has frequently over-reached and found constitutional "rights" that are simply not in the constitution. This judicial activism is a political virus that has infected our entire federal government. This is of course no accident because these activist judges were appointed by bad leaders for the exact purpose of allowing an end run around the constitution.

Single-term limits basically destroy the incentives special interests use to keep politicians honest (once bought, stays bought).

Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan have made it clear they have as much enthusiasm for this as turkeys for Thanksgiving. Trump may well find Congress barely less hostile to his agenda than it was to Obama's.

Who cares what that pair of hacks want? Call an Article V convention.

Probably a few more people care what those hacks want than care what Art Deco wants.

I think it is funny that you talk about term limits,

When you should really be concerned about gerrymandering.

Instead of term limits, how about something like mandatory retirement ages. 72 would be alright.

Indeed, a better option.

This analysis gives way more credit to the knowledge of the general public than I would. It assumes the public plans out their political positions carefully and with caution. I think a more likely explanation is that the public believes government doesn't work because all politicians are corrupt, and so we need term limits to reduce that corruption because the career politicians are the most corrupt.

If that's what the public believes, are you implying it's not accurate?

There was an article in The Public Interest some years back on the correlation between tenure of office and propensity to favor spending. Longer tenures mean more patron-client deals.

See Jimmy Carter's problems with Congress many moons ago. Reform legislation was crashing into one of two rocks: the vested interests of members of Congress, who had their fiefs, and the interests of public employee unions. Or dust off an old article about Jamie Whitten's influence over agricultural policy.

I expect that term limits would decrease the power of congress relative to lobbyists. I don't know whether that's good or not. The danger is that the influence and relationships would move to long-lived lobbyists. Some might say this has already happened, but I expect it would be moreso the case.

The 1994 Contract for America that was drafted by Gingrich prior to the mid-term elections called for signatories to adopt voluntary term limits. Many did not follow this once in office.

Gingrich's crew instituted parliamentary rules requiring rotation-in-office for committee chairs, something the Democratic Party of Rackets eliminated when they took back Congress.

I don't see the case really. Term limits will impact the specific person sitting in a chair but I don't see that it would have any impact on which party might be affiliated with that seat. In many ways term limits may actually entrench parties even more strongly as now it's not really about the candidate but the party. At least unless some other structural changes are included.

One structural change is demographics. Now 79, Phyllis Kahn has been the US representative for the district that includes the University of Minnesota since 1973, In the last Democratic primary she lost out to Ilhan Omar, a Somali immigrant with a degree from North Dakota State University. House district 60b is home to the largest Somali population outside of the east African country.

With term limits for both houses of Congress we'd likely see more presidential candidates. Once someone has served their maximum time in both houses they'd have nowhere left to go except the presidency. This would likely reduce the ability of parties to control to they nominate, since the pool of candidates running in the primaries would be larger and would consist largely of people who don't need party support for their political careers anymore.

OTOH that may give us more Trump-like candidates.

I'm as Conservative as they come, and I'm opposed to Term Limits. It's an elitist idea--the notion that the People aren't smart enough to elect the right people. If there's no urgent life-or-death reason to take away a right of the People--in this case the right to elect the same person to office again--then we shouldn't do it.

The result of how much more often there is change without an incumbent running suggests that people are more discerning in their choices when they change from time to time.

That should not generally be a life and death matter, but that seems like a pretty high bar for something to be worth talking about.

You want evidence for the effectiveness of term limits? The fact that existing politicians are against them should tell you all you need to know.

Not necessarily.

Would you supported a policy that guaranteed 100% that you'd have to get a new job in the next 4 years? Just because you oppose such a policy does not make you corrupt, regardless of whether that policy may also be beneficial for reducing corruption.

Change would presumably be faster with term limits. Would that be better or not?

The American system is generally designed to slow down change, so your view on this might be affected by whether you think change should be faster or slower and whether the resulting change would be in a direction you'd tend to get along with.

If we returned to the 30,000 voters per house member, we would have, with today's population, just over 11,0000 members in the House of Representatives. We could build them a barracks (I would prefer an open architecture with 30 members per bay), a cafeteria where they could purchase subsidized meals, pay minimal salaries, no per diem, no pensions, no personal assistants, travel expenses to/from home district twice per year.

This would tend to weed out the dilettantes, substantially increase lobbyist's cost and provide better representation all voters. Of course, only wildly popular legislation would ever be passed, but that's good isn't it?

Term limits or not term limits? Well, we have two houses:

No term limits in the Senate. 3 term limit (6 years) for Representatives in the House.

In principal I like the idea of term limits, but one possible drawback is pulling talent from the private sector, since there will be more open political positions to fill. Pulling productive individuals from the private sector may actually result in a net loss. Politicians, I believe, are more similar to professional fundraisers than professional legislators, so why not just keep them in government roles?

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