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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

TERM LIMITS

As much as we are accustomed today to presidents serving two consecutive terms, this was not always so. In fact, prior to FDR only ten of the first 31 presidents were elected to second terms, that's just 33%. In the 1800's there were eight single term presidents between Jackson and Lincoln, and seven single term presidents between Grant and Teddy Roosevelt. Then along came FDR in the midst of the calamity of the Great Depression and World War II who was elected to an unprecedented four terms thereby ushering in the concept of the career politician. This of course was negated by the 22nd Amendment which now permits only two consecutive presidential terms. Since it was enacted, five out of eleven presidents were elected to consecutive terms (45%).
Our founding fathers had no concept of career politicians. It was expected you would serve a reasonable time in Congress before returning home and allowing someone else to take a turn. Although the presidency was Washington's to keep as long as he wanted it, he unofficially established two terms as the maximum length of office for a president. He too saw the need for not allowing the government to stagnate and allow others to bring in fresh perspectives in the running of the country.
Today, politicians serving a single or double term are the exception as opposed to the rule. Consider for example, the late Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia who served for over 50 years; Senator Ted Kennedy served almost 47 years; Senator Harry Reid of Nevada has served 24 years in the Senate (he is currently seeking his 5th consecutive term) and four years in the House of Representatives prior to that, and finally; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has served 23 years (which seems paltry by comparison).
The concept of career politicians does not sit well with Americans anymore, particularly members of the Tea Party who believe such politics leads to cronyism and corruption, something they can no longer tolerate and represents the impetus to remove incumbents. Beyond this, there is a movement underfoot to enact term limits for members of Congress. After all, if it's good enough for the president, it should be good enough for congressmen, right?
There are several proposals being bandied about, but my favorite is the one geared towards a maximum of twelve years in office, whereby:
A. Two, Six-year Senate terms
B. Six, Two-year House terms
C. One, Six-year Senate term and three, Two-Year House terms.
Further, a Congressman should collect a salary only while in office and receive no pay when he/she is out of office.
Opponents to term limits claim it sets up a "Lame Duck" scenario, but this could be argued over the presidential term limits as well.
Bottom-line: the country is tired of "business as usual" and realizes career politicians lie at the crux of the problem. The message is clear: It is time to clean house.
Vote November 2nd.
Keep the Faith!
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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com
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