060626 TERM LIMITS IS A PRE-CONDITION...
“Term Limits is a pre-condition to improved government !” This startling statement becomes ever more plausible the longer one thinks about it.
Without term limits, our electoral system is literally poisoned by tenure, that insidious debilitating condition whereby ever increasing numbers of long term officeholders are insulated from their constituents, and become unaccountable for their actions.
Looking at it another way, if you make a list of all the important issues which plague our government, it is very difficult to find those which do not already have rational, commonsense solutions in play, but which resist resolution because our politicians are more interested in getting reelected, than they are in solving problems by passing sound legislation.
To get reelected, which is the sole reason for being to a career politician, he must satisfy several widely divergent interest groups, any one of which would be antagonized by an actual vote, one way or the other, on a wide variety of bills. Therefore, to a professional, career politician, it is very dangerous to take a stand and actually vote, because you might offend and lose voters for your reelection regardless which way you voted.
Term limited ‘citizen’ office holders, on the other hand, know that their time in office is limited, and are more motivated to ‘get the job done, and done right ! Generally speaking, they are not likely to be ‘career politicians’, and therefore more likely to go to the heart of the matter, reach commonsense solutions, and get sound legislation passed.
In an era when the House of Representatives has reached a reelection rate of 99%, and the Senate almost as high, it must be apparent to all that the career politicians have learned how to ‘game the system’ so as to win reelection every time, good governance be damned!
What does ‘gaming the system’ entail ? Well, for example :
• Voting “For” a bill in its early stages of debate, then voting “Nay” later, when no one is watching (or vice versa), so that you can claim both sides of the issue, depending on which group you are addressing.
• Making certain that some issues remain ‘issues’, instead of reaching a decisive vote.
• Maintaining your good relations with important contributors to your campaign by proposing, amending, or defeating bills according to their wishes, regardless of the merit of the bill for the country.
• Making certain that you get credit for generous budget “earmarks” for your district, that would never pass on their own merit, if voted on locally in the light of day,
• Making certain you get ‘photo-ops’ and ‘name recognition’ opportunities far in excess of those gained by any challengers.
• Making maximum use of the free mailing privileges to keep your name in front of your constituents.
• And most importantly, making certain that gerrymandering gets you a ‘safe’ district.
There are probably many, many other such techniques to keep a politician in office regardless whether or not he does a good job for the country, while ‘representing’ his constituents. With the advent of term limits however, a number of fundamental changes take place:
• When fully implemented, and if abbreviated enough (e.g. 2 terms instead of 4), It would virtually end the era of the ‘professional, career politician’, who uses his office as a livelihood. It might end the idea of politics as a livelihood, so that many more ordinary citizens would seek public office, to serve briefly, then go back to the private sector. (This suggests a single term would be best, but that’s a discussion for another day)
• When the transition period is complete, the Congress would be populated with a true cross-section of the voting public, a ‘citizen Congress’, many of whom would be determined to bring true transparency to the legislative process. They would not be expecting to make a livelihood there, but rather to do a good job, then leave.
• There would be a wave of commonsense legislation which would sharply reduce the size and cost of government. Duplicate, overlapping departments would be reduced, overreaching bureaucracies restrained, outrageous earmarks sharply curtailed, unprincipled lobbyist arrangements eliminated. Congress would be held more accountable in its oversight of the bureaucracies and idiotic laws it creates.
Sounds like pie-in-the-sky doesn’t it ? But I would like to bet anyone a goodly sum that such a scenario would be more likely than not to come true, as a result of the enactment of Congressional Term Limits.
Nelson Lee Walker
060625 CONGRESS POLLS LOW...THE TIME IS RIPE
With Congress currently sinking lower than ever in the polls, this ought to be the ideal time to get a Congressional Term Limits campaign going. So why is there not more activity in the national editorial pages discussing the need for Congressional Term Limits ? Why don’t more national columnists discuss it more often ?
Some high profile writers like Fred Barnes of The Weekly Standard, and George Will of the Washington Post have produced the occasional persuasive column suggesting Congressional Term Limits is ‘an idea whose time has come’. They have made off-hand remarks favoring term limits on their guest radio/TV appearances. The Cato and Heritage Foundation writers have produced several very convincing pieces on the subject over the last 10-12 years.Various small-town newspapers around the country have periodically editorialized that it is time for Congressional Term Limits. A number of grass roots websites (such as my http://tenurecorrupts.com , plus http://voidnow.org) have sprung up in the last couple of years, to supplement the activity of long established outfits like US Term Limits.
Yet somehow, the ‘critical mass’ required to really get it rolling just doesn’t seem to happen, in spite of the many arguments in its favor (see my site), not the least of which is that Congress has reached the point where their reelection success is now at 99%, which many people would agree is an unequivocally bad situation. Is this country ready to accept a Congressional aristocracy ? What kind of crisis is needed to move this forward ?
Nelson Lee Walker
060508 A PROPOSAL FOR "6 YEARS AND OUT!"
In 1995, the newly victorious Republican majority in the House of Representatives, intent on displaying their ‘integrity’ on the matter of meeting their campaign promise to pass Congressional Term Limits, pulled a cunning, sleazy stunt.They brought to the floor for ‘debate’, a number of different forms of term limits bills, so that various House members could each vote ‘FOR’ one or another of the bills, demonstrating that they were fulfilling their promise to ‘try’ to get term limits passed in the House, yet certain in the fact that no specific bill would gather the 2/3 majority to pass.
That fraudulent political trick teaches us the need to decide in advance how a Congressional Term Limit Amendment should be worded or constructed, and that we must focus on a single version of the bill to be voted on, to prevent Congress from pulling that stunt the next time around. That’s what I want to talk about today.
During the past year I have been mulling around a variety of term liimit formats,and have slowly come ‘round to the thinking that perhaps the fundamental problem which provokes us to call for Congressional Term Limits is that the single-minded pursuit by our professional politicians for reelection success (now at 99%!), makes it very clear that all their behavior, demonstrated by their TV face time, their name-recognition efforts, their childish fingerpointing both ways across the aisle, makes us wonder if any real legislating is going on.
As a matter of fact, more and more stories are beginning to come out about Congress not even reading most of the bills they vote on, only relying on their staffs to tell them which way to vote so that their reelection is more assured. In other words, “It’s the reelections, stupid!”
If this is so, and I firmly believe that it is, then it appears that we, the voters, have to consider the virtue of making all legislative offices single term jobs, or close to it. Under such circumstances, the incumbent legislator would be substantially free of any concern for reelection, which frees him from having to cozy up to various special interests for donations to his reelection campaign fund. Thus, much more legislation might be determined on its merits for the country, instead of who is paying for it.
Of course, during his single term he can certainly cultivate special interest donations to use in his next campaign for some other job, but it certainly is going to be far more difficult to make bribed promises for a nebulous ‘next run’.This would be very close to eliminating politics as a “career’ type of job, a truly worthy goal.
This then brings us to the question of how the House and Senate should be term limited. For the Senate, which already serves for 6 years per term, a single term appears to be a sufficiently long enough period to do a sound job, and then to move on. Obviously, when all Senators are single termers, seniority goes out the window, merit and principle get a reasonable chance to shine, and better legislation results. Enough said!
For the House on the other hand, the 2 year constitutional term is painfully brief. This is the so-called ‘people’s house’, where the Founders decided to make seats turn over relatively frequently so as to force representatives to be more in touch with the voters. We might consider two alternatives: one way could be to lengthen the single term to make it more worthwhile office to seek; or a second way could be to allow it to be a 2 year term , 3 term limit, a reasonable compromise.To lengthen the single term to 3, 4, or 6 years would make the ‘people’s house’ too similar to the Senate, destroying its chief distinction from the Senate. Therefore, I would opt for the second alternative of allowing the House to be a reelectable seat for a maximum 3 terms.
In summary, I suggest that the Congressional Term Limit Amendment be worded as follows:"Members of the Senate shall serve for a maximum of one term of 6 years. Members of the House shall serve a term of 2 years, and may be reelected for a maximum of 3 terms."
Remember, our president is term limited, more and more governors are term limited, more and more state legislatures are term limited, as are a great many city councils and mayors.
WHY NOT CONGRESS?!!!
Nelson Lee Walker
060623 IT'S THE REELECTIONS, STUPID !
The fundamental reason we need Congressional Term Limits is simply that Congress is no longer doing its job. Instead, it is working very hard at keeping its job.
There are many hot issues bouncing around the political scene today, and as many or more activist groups pushing them on Congress to get them passed into law. And when some of these issues are actually ‘debated’ by Congress and passed into law, the bills have been so chewed up, amended, and emasculated, that they are often not worth the paper they are written on. Congress will do anything it can to avoid making clear-cut decisions to get good legislation, in order not to offend or lose the voters they need for reelection.
Some people would say that’s the way a democracy works, and to some degree that is true. However, I take issue with that superficial way of looking at what is actually happening. Rather, I believe that what we are seeing is the result of the emergence of a Congressional class which is overwhelmingly committed to reelection first, all other considerations, especially good governance, last.
The best evidence of this is the fact that in 3 of the last 4 elections, Congressional incumbents won reelection at a 99% rate (in '98, in '00, and in '04). Before 50 years ago, that rate was about 50-60%. Do you really believe that 99% of incumbents deserved reelection ? In all these elections?
How this has come about can be understood by examining Congressional voting patterns in our current political environment, all of which are now routine, and all of which have arisen during the last part of the 20th century, as Congress has learned how to ‘game the system’.
For example :
•They don’t reform Soc Sec to get personal retirement accounts. They might lose voters for reelection
•They don’t reform health care to get personal medical accounts. They might lose voters for reelection
•They don’t stop earmarks, because they want to spend federal money (for local votes) for reelection
•They don’t vote school choice, because they want teacher’s union money for reelection
•They don’t vote for tort reform, because they want lawyer money for reelection
•They don’t vote for right-to-work, because they want union money for reelection
•They don’t want computer neutral redistricting, because they want safe seats for reelection
•They don’t deregulate campaign financing with instant disclosure, because they lose contributors for reelection
•They won’t lower taxes, because they won’t be able to vote irresponsible ‘goodies’ for reelection
•They won’t reduce the size of government, because that would reduce their control of voters for reelection
•Last, but not least, Congressional office has become a livelihood, which is in itself, a conflict of interest, because they become more interested in holding on to the job than passing good legislation. Unlimited reelections should not be allowed.
It is time for a Congressional Term Limits Amendment !
Nelson Lee Walker
060622 A WAY TO TERM LIMITS ?
A way to move Congressional Term Limits ? It’s been over 2 years since I started my website, tenurecorrupts.com, in an effort to do my part to awaken the American public to the danger we face from a permanently entrenched Congress (99% reelected in 3 of the last 4 elections).
As a private individual with very limited resources, I struggled with the problem of how to get the message out across the country.My first solution was to use Google Adwords, where I spend $100/mo to put random ads on various websites nationally, encouraging people to sign on to a mailing list which can be used to send out 'alerts' for concerted action demanding Congressional Term Limits legislation.This system works modestly well, gathering almost 500 signups in the past year, from less than 12,000 page views.
Then I came across a new website voidnow.org , which is gearing up to organize groups across the country to promote their objective, which is to Vote Out Incumbents for Democracy. After studying their message, I was so convinced that they were onto an excellent and very plausible way to make term limits happen, that I decided to help with my own campaign to get that message out. And it occurred to me that an inexpensive, long term adverising technique would be to use bumperstickers. For a nominal up front cost, you get a relatively permanent ad which circulates among the public for maximum visibility. The challenge is to get the stickers distributed and used. That challenge is currently underway, free for the asking. Go to tenurecorrupts.com to request your stickers.The message on the sticker is:
“DO NOT REELECT A SENATOR OR A CONGRESSMAN TIL WE TERM LIMIT CONGRESS !
If we get enough of them out there, that ought to do it ! Remember, we have a congressional election every two years. If this message puts a dent in their 99% reelection rate, we may see some action on Congressional Term Limits soon.
Nelson Lee Walker
060531 THE BUMPER STICKER IDEA
Very often it is the simple things that do the trick.
We all acknowledge that achieving a Congressional Term Limits Amendment will be no easy task. There are at least a half dozen websites dedicated to promoting the idea, with little success, some for many years.
Yet, in spite of the fact that 70% of the country is in favor of Congressional Term Limits it get little attention. Since the bill must first get a 2/3 vote in each house of Congress, which is dead set against it, before it can be sent to the states for ratification, even ‘deep pockets’ who would be willing to fund the enormous advertising campaign to rally the voters, are not even faintly interested in such a long odds endeavor.
Which brings me to the ‘simple things’ which might do the trick.The idea came to me after seeing the voidnow.org website. This group is sponsoring the idea that voters should “Vote Out Incumbents for Democracy”. I thought the idea was so plausible that I fashioned a bumpersticker for it, especially targetted at Congress. To top it off, I decided to offer the bumpersticker free to all comers. It would look something like this:
TERM LIMIT CONGRESS
NEVER REELECT THEM
The same thing can be done for Window or Wall stickers for small businesses.The beauty of the sticker idea is that, for a very reasonable front-end cost, this ‘ad’, on a great many car bumpers, walls, and windows around the country, would be ‘up’ for a long, long time, for no additional cost, achieving exposure to a great many people. The challenge will be to get lots and lots of bumpers and windows ‘stickered’. This note is my effort to start the movement.
For more info, go to tenurecorrupts.com or voidnow.org
060509 SINS OF A PERMANENTLY-ELECTED CONGRESS
Career politicians think first about keeping their job, not about the quality or value of the laws they are, or are not, passing. Naturally !
Isn't that what you would do to protect your livelihood? That's precisely why we must not allow Congress to become a long-term livelihood for politicians!
Below is a partial list of the 'crimes' (or problems) which professional politicians refuse to forthrightly address and legislate on, because the issues are too controversial, and may affect their chances of reelection, and whether their party can hold or gain a majority in Congress, on which hangs the power of chairmanships and committees.
The problems caused by, or not resolved by, a 'corrupt' Congress...i.e. a professional, careerist, reelection-obsessed Congress.
are crimes of Omission and/or Commision, such as the following:
• Social Security reform (not going from pay-as-you-go to personal retirement accounts)
• Abdicating responsibility and law-making to bureaucracies, e.g. the EPA
• Fostering the increasing growth of earmarks and budget deficits
• Fostering the increase in government bureaucracies
• Gerrymandering districts for safe seats, instead of using computer-neutral redistricting
• Allowing tort crimes by ‘Big Law’ and stupid juries
• Allowing American K-12 education to deteriorate by caving to teacher’s unions vs school choice
• Tolerating useless, damaging drug wars vs legalizing drug use (a la Prohibition Repeal)
• Failing to de-regulate oil exploration, drilling, refining, and nuclear power production
• Failing to establish universal free trade, and ending federal subsidies in all fields
• End campaign finance regulation, establish immediate internet disclosure all campaign funds
• End election fraud by secure voter ID, purge all rolls (start from scratch), establish secure, trackable computer voting
• Etc, etc, etc
Full disclosure: I fully realize that many of the above positions may be considered to be standard libertarian or conservative items. However, I believe that if fully implemented, they would be major steps on the road to truly good government, for everybody.
However, they are unlikely to happen without first enacting Term Limits, to end professional, careerist, reelection-obsessed politicians.
Nelson Lee Walker
060422 A CAUTIONARY NOTE FOR TERM LIMIT PROPONENTS
In the 1994 Republican victory in Congress, one of the reasons they did so well was that they included in “The Contract With America” a proposal to enact Congressional Term Limits.
In spite of the huge popularity in the country for Term Limits, and Congress’ apparent efforts to pass bills toward that end, Congressional Term Limits never achieved the required 2/3 vote in either house, and simply went into oblivion. It was the only plank of the 'Contract' that did not pass.
Now, many people would consider that Congress made a ‘good faith’ effort, but it failed. I reject that idea. I believe that the Congressional leadership, and Newt Gingrich in particular, knew how to make a ‘good show’ of the whole exercise, to show that they tried to meet the promise. In other words, they knew if they simply would debate a number of slightly different term limits bills, then each member of the House or the Senate could vote for one or another of the bills, indicating that he was ‘for’ term limits, but no bill would get the required 2/3 vote, yet all members would be ‘on the side of the angels’. They simply had to spread their votes over multiple bills.The lesson to be learned here is that in our quest, we must be wary of Congressional shenanigans like that one.
There are many opinions on how term limits should be constructed, and when the time arrives to shape it for debate in Congress, we must scream like banshees if Congress tries to debate and vote on more than one bill at a time. And we must let them know they will be held accountable for a ‘No’ vote on that bill.
Remember, the differences between such term limits bills are ‘peanuts’. The only important consideration is that they are TERM LIMITS on Congress, which currently is serving virtual life terms! They are guaranteed to pull a similar stunt again to defeat our next attempt.
Nelson Lee Walker
060411 AN OPEN LETTER TO RUSH
Rush, I once heard you say to a caller that “Congressional Term Limits doesn’t have a chance!”
That attitude is not only inconsistent with your oft expressed general philosophy of life, e.g. “Go for your dream, and don’t let anyone stop you!” Well, Congressional Term Limits is MY dream, and the dream of a helluva lot of thinking Americans, and I take considerable umbrage that you, my once hero!, would be so negative about the idea.
It astonishes me that you don’t see it the way that I, and many, many Americans, see it!
In fact, I am convinced the gut commonsense instincts of the American public at large is so heavily in favor of local and statewide term limits across the country, as shown by the lopsided victories that such ballots win every time they are tried that, if Rush Limbaugh listeners got the stimulation from El Rushbo to barrage the media, and their Congresspeople in both houses, and demanded the appropriate constitutional amendment to make it happen, IT WOULD HAPPEN!
As all your listeners know, your justifiable rantings against the puerile behavior of both houses of Congress, on both sides of the aisle, is evidence that you must be of a mind that something must be done about it, aside from the ordinary process of voting, which has gotten us to this sorry pass.
In addition, it must trouble you, as it does me and many others, that the recent sustained history of 99% successful reelections of incumbents, is a serious flaw in the American electoral process. The excessive tenure of our legislative representatives leads to a corruption of ideals, ethics, and objectives, which tends to get worse with time. Are you willing to live with a virtually permanent Congress? When will you decide that enough is enough?
I am willing to wager that, if you were to spend only a few minutes a week (out of your 15 hours!), even if you maintained only a neutral stance, it would generate a storm of supporting calls for Congressional Term Limits. Why not try it?
Nelson Lee Walker, Saratoga, CA
060406 AMERICA'S FIRST PRIORITY - CONGRESSIONAL TERM LIMITS
Why should Congressional Term Limits should be America's first priority?
In all the hurly-burly of present day Congressional politics, doesn't it occur to anyone that there is no judicious, forward-thinking legislating going on? Each issue that comes up is tackled on a political, hysterical, poll-driven basis, and seldom addressed with any real intent to solve problems with hard-headed commonsense solutions. In other words, it is mostly "Don't just stand there! Do something! Anything! Just look like you're doing Something!" (and especially don't let the other side win on any issue!)
This is the mode of our current-day 'permanently re-elected' Congress, whose ongoing chief pre-occupation is getting reelected, which they do with a 99% success rate. Pretty good for stumblebums, eh?
Even when one party or the other does have a 'good' solution, the opposite party votes against it, or amends it into uselessness, for fear that the sponsoring party might earn some credit in the next (re)election for doing something good.
Politics! The bane of our existence! (Yeah, but it's still better than tyranny!)
We can't stop political shenanigans completely, but we can sharply reduce its wicked tendencies by enacting Congressional Term Limits. A large part of the evils of politics is brought about by the addiction of career politicians to the reelection process.
As soon as they are first elected to any office, careerist politicians become consumed with plans to get reelected. From that time on, all their moves and deals and pronouncements are related to how it will affect their reelection chances.
Take for example the following list of issues which, if tackled with the best intentions for the country, and not for either party's benefit, and nor for any special interest's benefit, would most likely be solved by a 'citizen Congress', but will never be effectively solved by our current 'permanently' reelected careerist Congress:
Social Security reform with universal mandatory PRAs (including those on welfare)
Means-tested medical Rx drug plans
Mandatory medical savings plans
Universal school choice for competitive schooling
Immigration reform including border control, assimilation requirements/incentives
Computer-based neutral redistricting w/o human interference
Fraud-proof nationwide voting, including purged voter rolls
Regulation-free political financing with instant online disclosure
De-regulation of energy: exploration, drilling, refining, nuclear power.
Transparent budgetary process
Every one of the above issues facing the country, and more, would be more equitably and intelligently debated, resolved, and passed, if we had a term limited 'citizen congress' working on the job.
And lastly, but certainly not least, we will never get Congressional Term Limits passed, and a 'citizen Congress' installed, while the Congress is dominated by careerist professional politicians who think it is their God-given right to hold a seat in Congress in perpetuity! This, in spite of the fact that Americans are passing term limits for local and state officeholders all across the country. Why not for Congress?
This simply means that, of all the issues facing the country today, none is more important than placing a Congressional Term Limits Amendment at the top of our own citizen agenda, and getting it passed.
Stop and think. Every single other issue is unlikely to be effectively resolved, unless we have a large contingent of fresh, non-careerist legislators in the Congress who realize that they are only there temporarily, to do a job for the country, not to work for reelection. And we won't get those fresh legislators until we force out the career politicians who win reelection 99% of the time.
It is time to stop reelecting incumbents! It is time to vote out incumbents! (both good and bad!).
It is time to give citizen legislators a chance!
It is past time for a Congressional Term Limits Amendment!
I'm Nelson Lee Walker, Saratoga, CA
(Bio) Who am I? My name is Nelson Lee Walker, retired engineer, 85 yrs young, who is determined to make a difference for our country. I'd like your help.
What am I trying to do?
The name of this site says it all. The professional career politicians in Congress are destroying our great country. A 'CitizenCongress' would be healthier for our republic. We need Term Limits in Congress. The Arguments page may convince you. The Act Now! page will suggest how to help
Click here to copy/paste the above logo to your website
Archive (by others)
Archive (My youtube videos)
Archive 2006 (2nd half)
Archive 2006 (1st qtr)
Articles (This Page Only)
Term Limits is a Precondition
Congress Polls Low, Time is Ripe
Six Years and Out
It's the Reelections, Stupid!
A Way to Term Limits
The Bumper Sticker Idea
Sins of a Permanently Elected Congress
An Open Letter to Rush
A Cautionary for Term Limit Proponents
America's First Priority
Other Term Limits SITE LINKS
TroDaBumsOut (youtube videos)
Get Out of Our House (Goooh.com)
Friends of Article V Convention
Citizens for Term Limits
Vote Out Incumbents Democracy
US Term Limits
State Term Limit Statistics
National Initiative in USA ?
Direct Democracy Initiatives Site
The Tygrrr Express
Good Books on Term Limits
Restoration by George F Will
Breach of Trust by SenTomCoburn
Why Term Limits? byJohnC.Armor
The Trust Committed to Me by
ex Congrman Mark Sanford
(now Gov South Carolina}
Other Term Limits Articles
What makes a GOOD Voter ?
Will v Broder on Term Limits
USTL v Thornton
Local Term Limits History
PBasham Cato '04
RPilon WSJ Jan 97
Bandow '96 Cato #259
The Great Con-Con Hoax
Con-Con is Dangerous !
Cato Handbook for Congress
JFund Oct90 Cato #141
Bandow '95 Cato #221
Lowry - Erosion of Democracy
MIT article in favor '94
Cato Congress vs Competition
Heritage Term Limits Only Way
Congress For Life ?
Columns by Paul Jacob
Cato Buckley Mar 2000
National Initiative in USA ?
Direct Democracy Initiatives Site