Great news: Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) will soon be launching a Constitutional amendment bill to limit terms of the U.S. Congress!
I am often asked by reporters and talk radio hosts what it would take to achieve Congressional term limits. It is a big project and will take the right conditions to get the job done.
First, I say, we need the people on our side. Check.
Second, we need historically low approval ratings on Congress. Check.
Third, we need political leadership. Check?
Yes, it looks we finally have that too. The remarks below are excerpted from U.S. Senator Jim DeMint’s podcast of October 22, 2009. Senator DeMint, who voluntarily limited his tenure in the House of Representatives to three terms, is announcing the imminent launch of a bill to Constitutionally limit terms.
Take it away, Sen. DeMint:
"The longer I stay in Washington, the more I have come to realize that the problem in the federal government isn't just the people...it’s the process.
"The system itself is so much more powerful than either party or interest group, let alone one president or congressional leader. In Washington, the rules of the game are rigged—in favor of bigger government, higher taxes, more debt, and the time-honored system of political back-scratching of 'go along to get along.
"The fact is, party doesn’t matter when it comes to reform. If you want to change the policies, you have to change the process. That’s why in the next few weeks I will introduce a new constitutional amendment to limit members of the House of Representatives to three terms (which is six years), and members of the Senate to two terms (which is twelve years).
"As long as members have the chance to spend their lives in Washington, their interests will always skew toward fundraising, relationship building among lobbyists, and trading favors for pork—in short, amassing their own power. Since all that power is going to disappear in a few years anyway, term-limited legislators will be far less likely to make compromises with the system.
"Opponents of term limits say that the nation needs wise and seasoned leaders to lead the nation through crises and find consensus on difficult issues. Well, that’s exactly what we’ve got now.... How do you think it’s working out for us? It wasn’t the People who gave us a 12-trillion dollar debt, trillion-dollar deficits, 100-trillion-dollar long term shortfall in Social Security and Medicare, the Wall Street and auto bailouts, and the health care takeover. It was those wise and seasoned leaders, who enjoy lives of privilege almost wholly immune from the consequences of their policy failures.
"Term limits are not enough, of course. I hope my amendment will eventually be ratified, and then followed by other structural reforms to make our public institutions more transparent and accountable. But term limits are a good start. Because if we really want reform, we all know it’s not enough just to change the congressmen—we have to change Congress itself."
The fourth thing we need to win is for grass roots activists to raise such a clamor that this bill cannot be ignored and Congress members are afraid to vote against it.
So please, right now, go to the U.S. Terms Limits website and sign the on-line petition reiterating Sen. DeMint's call for term limits. And send around the link to all your friends and associates of all political persuasions.
If not now, when?