When the Egyptian protestors first took to the streets of Egypt on January 25, they demanded presidential term limits and resignation of President Hosni Mubarak. Not long before Mubarak agreed to step down, a judiciary committee in Egypt agreed to accept the people’s demands and amended six articles of the country’s constitution – including article 76, putting terms limits on the presidency.
It was too little, too late.
Whereas term limits mandate rotation in office even in corrupt democracies, without them sham elections and entrenched leadership often can only be ousted via violence. Hence, the street had to take care of what constitutional rules and elections should have done.
Mubarak had served in office 30 years as ruler of Egypt. And he is not alone in the region. Muammar al-Gaddafi has ‘served’ Libya for 42 years, Sultan Qaboos biri Said Al Said has served Oman for 41 years, Omar al-Bashir in Sudan served for 21 years and Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen has served for 32 years.
That’s nearly as long as U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D-MI, 55 years), Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI, 51 years), Rep. Charles Rangell (D-NY, 40 years) and Rep. Bill Young (R-FL, 40 years) have 'served' us in Congress.
Our Founders recognized that rotation in office was essential for democracy to function and liberty be preserved. The world needs term limits, from the thrones of the Middle East to the U.S. Capitol.