Monday, September 6, 2010

Term Limits and the 2010 U.S. Senate elections

The issue of term limits is hot again, in a way we haven't seen in well over a decade. A poll released last week shows that 78 percent of Americans support term limits for the U.S. Congress, including large majorities for Democrats (74%), independents (74%) and Republicans (84%). Meanwhile, Congressional approval ratings are mining all-time lows.

Hence, now is the time to press for Congressional term limits. If not now, when?

We have a vehicle, the "Term Limits for All" amendment, with leadership from its author, Sen. Jim DeMint. What we need now is get more cosponsors and votes for the amendment. That means electing pro-term limits candidates. Just as importantly, it means getting these candidates to commit to co-sponsoring the DeMint amendment.

Why is this specific bill so important? Because supporting term limits in general but then opposing the specific proposal that is actually on the table is the oldest political trick in the book. We need to approach all Senate candidates with the follwing question, either in conversation, at public appearances, or by phone or email: "Will you become a co-sponsor of the DeMint amendment to limit Congressional terms?" Then we need to help them win.


The Miller campaign informs us that he has spoken in support of term limits, but has not made the issue central to his campaign. They are looking at the DeMint amendment and will decide whether or not to come out in support.


Firoina made a big splash with her announcement to support term limits for the U.S. Congress. The problem is, the 12-year House limits she is calling for don't jibe with DeMint's amendment, which calls for six years for the House and 12 for the Senate. Thank her for her support of term limits, but will she sign on to the DeMint bill? Ask her!


Buck is one of the eight Senate candidates being financially assisted by DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund. One of the eight planks of the CSF is "Our country is being destroyed by career politicians. SCF candidates will support a constitutional amendment establishing congressional term limits. " That is a good sign and Buck has verbally supported term limits. But will he be a co-sponsor of the DeMint bill?


Another CSF recipient who has opined that the Republican Party should be the party of term limits. However, he has gone to great lengths to avoid committing to supporting Jim DeMint's bill in public. In fact, he has gone quiet on the issue since he successfully used his Tea Party stepladder to become the establishment favorite.


Term limits is one of Rand Paul's top campaign issues and he has unambiguously come out in support of the DeMint bill. He has even pledged to work on trying to make term limits a presidential issue for 2012! Thanks, Rand.


Tom Coburn is a long-term term limits supporter and is already a co-sponsor of the DeMint bill. Thank you!


One can't doubt Toomey's term limit bona fides. Like Tom Coburn, Toomey left the House after fulfilling a self-imposed commitment to serve no more than eight years in the U.S. House. Today, he is supporting Congressional term limits. Will be be a co-sponsor of the DeMint bill? Ask him!


Jim DeMint is providing the national leadership needed on this issue. He is also spoken of as a presidential candidate for 2012 or beyond. If he runs, he'd be taking the term limits issue with him on the campaign trail.

Regarding Congressional term limits, some say, "It is a great idea, but it will never happen." Heck, I've said this before! But picture this: 1) 78% support from Americans of all parties, 2) Congressional approval ratings at all-time lows, 3) an amendment bill in the U.S. Senate with a growing list of cosponsors, 4) a companion bill submitted in the House, 5) term limits become important campaign issue across the country, and then, 5) presidential sponsorship.

All of a sudden, it seems like it can happen, doesn't it? Let's make it so!

(By the way, if you have info about these or other Senate races in regards to term limits, please share. You can email me here.)