Donald Trump Is Right About The Need For Term Limits

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by Caroline Baum, originally posted at,

To clean up Washington, send the swamp creatures packing

When they run for re-election, more than 90% of House members win.

When we said that an authority conferred by the free suffrages of the people never harmed a republic, we presupposed that the people, in giving that power, would limit, as well the time during which it was to be exercised. – Niccoló Machiavelli, “The Discourses,”. 1517.

Ronald Reagan famously said that “the nearest thing to eternal life we will ever see on this earth is a government program.” In the same vein, he might have said that the nearest thing to lifetime employment we will ever see on this earth is a seat in the U.S. Congress.

Since 1964, the incumbency rate has averaged 93% in the House of Representatives and 82% in the Senate, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Low approval ratings are clearly no obstacle to re-election.

Anyone watching the bi-party obstructionism and hypocrisy in Washington these days would surely conclude that it’s time to clean house. To the extent that the 2016 presidential election reflected a populist rejection of the status quo, what institution better encapsulates “more of the same” than Congress?

Donald Trump came out in favor of term limits during the 2016 presidential election campaign.

“If I’m elected president, I will push for a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress,” Trump said at a campaign rally in Colorado in October. He subsequently quantified those limits: six years in the House and 12 years in the Senate. If such a law were applied to the current Congress, almost half the sitting members would be out of a job.

House Speaker Paul Ryan has pledged to bring term limits to the floor for a vote. Even if he does, no one expects lawmakers to vote themselves out of a secure job that comes with generous benefits, including health care and a pension (five years of service required to qualify), and minimal demands on one’s time. The House has logged an average of 139 days in session a year since 2001.

(To be fair, representatives have duties to fulfill in their home districts as well.)

The public is on board with the idea of term limits. An October 2016 Rasmussen survey found that 74% of likely voters favored establishing term limits for members of Congress. The other 26% were equally divided between opposed and undecided.

That’s a pretty solid starting point, but history urges caution.

Term limits were included in the Republicans’ 1994 “Contract with America,” but the measure failed to garner the required votes.

Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia served more than 51 years in the U.S. Senate, longer than anyone in history.

Besides, voters may say they want to throw the bums out, but the evidence on re-election rates suggests they give their particular bum a pass!

What is to be done? Term limits have had great success on the state and local level. Fifteen states have term-limited legislatures. Thirty-six state governors have some form of term limits. Nine of the U.S.’s 10 largest cities have enacted term limits for mayor. And half of large-city governments limit the number of terms an individual may serve.

The 22nd Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1951, limited the president and vice president to two terms in office. The only elected officials immune to term limits, it seems, are members of Congress. Self-interest argues that the thrust to impose them will have to come from the states.

Article V of the U.S. Constitution provides the guidelines for amending the original document in either of two ways. Congress may propose amendments, with the approval of two-thirds of both Houses, or the legislatures of two-thirds of the states may call a convention for that purpose. To date, the states have never exercised that option.

Phillip Blumel, president of U.S. Term Limits, a single-issue advocacy organization, reports some encouraging developments on that front. While a term-limits amendment is regularly introduced in each session, “this year it was almost a competition from members of Congress to introduce the bill,” Blumel says.

And for the first time in 2016, U.S. Term Limits turned its focus away from the national level to the states in a effort to get them to exercise their option to call for a convention.

“Our test case was Florida,” Blumel says. “The bill passed. The vote on the floor was overwhelmingly in favor.”

This year, U.S. Term Limits is targeting eight states to enact applications for a convention. That’s still a long way from the two-thirds, or 34 states, required.

“For us to be successful, the states do not have to have a convention,” Blumel explains. “Passing applications in the states will get Congress to act. Congress would write its own amendment.”

I am skeptical that these lifers will legislate themselves out of office. But Blumel cites a precedent: the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, which established the popular election of two senators from each state for a six-year term.

Prior to 1913, senators were elected by state legislatures. The House had passed several measures proposing an amendment on the direct election of senators, but “the bills could not get out of Senate committee,” Blumel says.

Then the states got into the act. Once 30 states had passed applications for a convention to amend the Constitution — close to the 32 needed at the time — Congress wrote and passed its own amendment.

“It took a decade back then,” Blumel says. Things happen a lot faster nowadays, which means “we’ll know in the next five years whether it’s going to happen or not.”

Many of the Founding Fathers, including James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, were in favor of term limits. They feared creating a permanent ruling class that would pursue its own interests at the expense of the public’s. Jefferson stressed “the necessity of rotation in office” as a means to prevent abuse.

But term limits, which were included in the Articles of Confederation, never made it into the Constitution based on the belief that regular elections were the best form of term limits.

In theory, elections should be the best form of term limits. But it hasn’t worked out that way. Many House seats are uncontested. The odds are so stacked against challengers that serious candidates are discouraged from running for office. Voters have a choice between an incumbent and a non-entity. Or the lesser of two evils.

And as for our public servants, the idea that they are self-sacrificing individuals interested in the common good is a fantasy. They are, like the rest of us, interested in advancing their own careers and financial security.

Because the public sector doesn’t offer open-ended monetary rewards, at least in terms of salary and bonus, power becomes its own reward, leading to unethical behavior, abuse and even corruption. Term limits would prevent special interests from completely overwhelming the public interest.

If the 2016 presidential election is any guide, the American public’s disgust with the political class has reached such an extreme that voters are willing to take a chance with devil they don’t know. Grass-roots organizations need to harness that “outsider” preference and build momentum for congressional term limits quickly before that enchantment with the devil starts to wane.

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Raffie's picture

Need to drain the Demon-crat swamp in Calif, Oregon and Washington State.

O C Sure's picture

"When we said that an authority conferred by the free suffrages of the people never harmed a republic, we presupposed that the people, in giving that power, would limit, as well the time during which it was to be exercised. – Niccoló Machiavelli, “The Discourses,”. 1517.

An appropriate source for Term Limits since both the Constitution and Declaration of Independence owe their origins to this man:

"The short tenure of office prevents oligarchies and aristocracies from falling into hands of families; it is not easy for a person to do any great harm when his tenure of office is short, whereas long possession begets tyranny in oligarchies and democracies." — Aristotle, Politics, 1308a16-1308a21

evoila's picture

what is right, and what he'll actually do are 2 different things homey...

jcaz's picture

If he gets this done- and absolutely nothing else the next four years-  he'll go down in history as one of the greatest Presidents of all time.

The Saint's picture
The Saint (not verified) jcaz Feb 8, 2017 9:13 PM

Of all of the things Trump said he wants to get done as President the single one I would expect to NEVER happen is Term Limits for Congress.  The legistators will never cut their own throats.  They are too self centered.

California will succeed from the Union before Congress gets Term Limits.


O C Sure's picture

If he doesn't, it is at the top of the list for A5 convention.

JRobby's picture

The most important development towards restoring the republic in 100 years

A Nanny Moose's picture the Roman Tradition of Dictators, I will make an exception should Trump prove himself worthy.

AVmaster's picture

We have term limits for the presidency because of that nuthead DEMOCRAT: 


FDR... The darling of leftards everywhere... AND WE ARE STILL PAYING FOR HIS BULLSHIT...

GUS100CORRINA's picture

Several names come to mind that should be on the "TO GO" list ...

Maxine Waters

Nancy Pelosi

Chuck Schumer

Keith Ellison

and any other DEMOCRAT over the age of 45 years.

Note that skin color and gender are not a consideration.


No Time for Fishing's picture

Only way it's going to happen is if the State's Act

The Liberty Amendments


Get on your State Legislators and tell them you want a Convention of States and Term Limits in Washington! 3 Terms or 12 Years max. No special Pension. Social Security and 401k like the rest of us. 

yogibear's picture

Need to drain the sewer.

doctor10's picture

to control the US government all you need to do is control about 1000 positions in DC 435 congress seats, 100 Senate seats, 9 Supreme Court Justices and the heads of 300-400,Federal Agencies. That's it. You control the seats and it matters not who sits in them. Remember Hillary stole 900 FBI files in 1994. She and Bill rode those 900 for 20 years.

Original Congressional apportionment was 1:30000. That would give 10000 congresscritters meeting electronically from their districts. That would give control back to the people-and provide a large enough Congress to hold federal agencies to their Constitutional limits. Congress is too small today to be able to do that.

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

I am disgusted at how our otherwise fairly rational Congressmen and Senators in OR have gone off the deep end since the Election.

I would not urinate on them, if they were on fire.

ebworthen's picture

The idea that you need to be a "politician" to be a politician is a big part of the problem.

It is supposed to be Public Service, not a career.

O C Sure's picture

Removing the ability to make money out of the offices would make merit of more importance than wealth/graft. Term limits, then address the lobbying, works to severing the idea of career from politician.

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

Any cognitive dissonance at the fact that Ron Paul was a career politician for so long, or does he get a hyprocrisy-free Free Pass?

It's a fair Q.

nmewn's picture

So again, why is it that someone who writes a bad check in the real world is thrown in jail...but...congresscritters write them their entire careers there, get paid by others to do it and then leave with a big fat pension paid for by others?

Jus askin...again ;-)

Nobodys Home's picture

Because The Postal Service is in on it?

apike3137's picture

if you voted for an incumbent..YOU helped fill that swamp...


uhland62's picture

That's right and if the local party hacks wouldn endorse the same candidates again and again it wouldn't happen either. 

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

Re-elect Ron Paul.  Re-elect Rand Paul. 

Objectively speaking, "your" Congress critter getting re-elected over and over, is NO different than the ones you don't like.

If you cannot accept that, then you are either an intellectual midget or fraud.

Scarlett's picture

You have to work within the constraints of the system to change it.  Do you need obvious explanations all the time?

fbazzrea's picture

impose term limits on Congress and the Senate. maybe i could afford a designer crocodile handbag.

Miskondukt's picture

I shudder to think about the left liberals losing their shit when this starts to make way.

If-probably when-they do, it will be their point of no return. I want to think that upon facing the actual approval rates and having to answer if a job they held was so negatively approved of by a supervisor performance review would they keep their job while at the same time justified in asking for a raise that they'd get it...but I doubt it.

Nobodys Home's picture

"Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia served more than 51 years in the U.S. Senate, longer than anyone in history."
He was the founder of PizzaGate.

youarelost's picture

Like he is the first person to every say it.  Man some horseshit

Mareka's picture

Term limits plus a mandatory waiting period equal to the time served in government before working as a lobbyist.

The worst on both sides are the individuals who have burrowed into the political system like ticks.

Pelosi, McConnell, Feinstein, McCain, Graham, Schumer.
Flush the swamp!!

Fathead Slim's picture
Fathead Slim (not verified) Mareka Feb 9, 2017 2:53 AM

Nah, a lifetime prohibition on lobbying after holding any elected or appointed office is a better idea.

FlipSide's picture

I've been wishing for term limits as much as I have been an audit of the federal reserve.

Catullus's picture

No term limits. Just increase the size of congress. You weaken the power of entrenched congressmen. And you make lobbying so expensive that it's impossible at the legislative level.

johnnycanuck's picture

"“If I’m elected president, I will push for a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress,” 


He also said he was going to drain the swamp, multiple times.  Since being elected he said he thought that was a stupid line but tried it out at a rally and everyone went wild for it.  So he used it, over and over again.  Then he said it was cute, but I'm not going to use it anymore.

Trash talking is an Elixir salesmans specialty.

effendi's picture

I'm against term limits. If someone is a dud then toss them out at the ballot box. If voters are unwilling to toss out "their" guy (R/D) what makes you think that the guy finishing his term limit won't endorse a clone as his replacement? Term limits will get rid of lots of bad incumbents but also get rid of some good ones as well. Better to have tougher disclosure rules, higher penalties for corruption, restrictions on becoming lobbyists after politics, restrictions on the power of politicians, smaller government etc etc.

GRDguy's picture

There are more bad ones than good. Majority rules.

That's why we're in so much deep sh*t.

Fathead Slim's picture
Fathead Slim (not verified) effendi Feb 9, 2017 2:51 AM

Damn, why didn't I think of that? Toss 'em out at the ballot box. How's that been working?

GRDguy's picture

Change your party affiliation to the majority of incumbents you can vote for, then simply vote against every incumbent every primary, and then in the  general election.  It would be nice (but won't happen) that the incumbent has two boxes; one for honorable discharge and the other for dishonorable. Vote for the replacement that seems least sociopathic. And repeat, every two years. F**k term limits. It would be community service, and then the incumbents come back to live in their community the rest of their lives under any laws they passed.

Boca's picture

2 term limit and no more lifetime full pension and healthcare benefits regardless of time serve,  serving the government was never suppose to be a career  

OccamsCrazor's picture


Especially here in ILLINOIS TOO. 


These CAREER criminals are just too easily bribed term in and term out.  

alfbell's picture

Not supposed to be career politicians. An American comes to DC and serves for a few years and that is his duty. That whole DC sub-culture of politicians has GOT TO GO.

Congress and all other parts of government should NOT have their own Social Security, medical/health programs, pay raises, special perqs, etc. Another example of the corruption that these conniving, parasitic government workers have created. Why was this allowed to happen?! This has to go too. 

wwxx's picture

I could 'fix it' real easy, quick too.  I would say to each and every state, plainly: You need new representatives & senators, Your state must elect new representatives & senators within the next 30 days, and if you send anyone over the age of 25, they will be immediately jailed, just as the current ones that are being arrested as we speak, and no-- the new blood, the young ones cannot be related by blood nor marriage to anyone that is or was a 'federal employee'.  [now really people, is there any doubt a legal case cannot be found befitting each and every lowlife currently holding this country hostage calling themselves representatives!, call it terroristic threatening, although more imaginative & specific charges will be posted]


Out of let say 10 million youngsters 14- 25 yrs. old, inexperienced and inept that they are, they should run & win locally...I'm sure, I'm certain that each state will elect a whole new crew of 535 federal representatives, that YOU may not be able to trust to do their job properly, but then I would rather take my chances with those youngsters & their immature mistakes, than the worst of the worst that insist upon doing the wrong things for a price.  And of those new congressional & senatorial members, heck ya limit them to 4 yrs...that's the maximum time for any one face.


Now you won't see The Donald, doing anything like this, because he is too busy with his tweetdistraction.  You won't see The Donald revealing every secret paper, because it is the secretcy that disallows democracy.  Secret ballots, secret meetings, secret investigations, secret gods, secret wars, secret prisons, secret death that is what that red, white, & blue rag stands for, or haven't you heard?




..."the young ones cannot be related by blood nor marriage to anyone that is or was a 'federal employee'"

nor can they be pet owners. deal. ; )

Apeon's picture

2nd Rule


NO ONE works for the Federal Gov't for more than 10 years


All compensation, is paid directly to the employee, and retirements are put in their personal fund, as well as health benefit funds, that go with the employee.


Military, Intelligence, Security excepted.

any_mouse's picture

Intelligence? Worst of the lot of entrenched power. Actually, same for all three.

LithiumWarsWAKEUP's picture

While we're at it, Term Limits for Supreme Court, too. Currently for 'Life'. We have 4 Jews and 4 Catholics at present. 1 more Catholic up, with Gorsuch, a 'cuck' proven today. 0 Protestants on the Court. Half the population is Protestant, but the Jews and Catholics hate the Protestants. See how easy this is?

sinbad2's picture

See the thing is, judges are supposed to interpret the law. if you want religious courts, check out the inquisition, they were the experts at religious justice.

Fathead Slim's picture
Fathead Slim (not verified) sinbad2 Feb 9, 2017 2:49 AM

Yeah, those laws are all written in Martian, and they have to be interpreted for all of the dumbassed English speaking peons.

Dr_Snooz's picture

Gawd! Have we learned nothing from the last time we tried this? In '94 we sent a bunch of newbs to DC in the Republican Revolution. The guys got there and found that they didn't know anything, but there were armies of friendly lobbyists and career bureaucrats waiting to help them figure it all out. The result was nothing at all but a new crop of dirtbag politicians selling out the public. Sending a bunch of newbs to DC didn't fix the pervasive corruption in the lobbying class and the bureaucracy. So the answer, apparently, is to rotate newbs in more frequently?

Please, please can we stop this? You can't fix endemic corruption with clever gimmicks. You have to get in there, enforce the law and shovel out the shit. People have to go to jail. People have to get fired and morality has to be enforced once again in a meaningful fashion.

HeadintheGame's picture

I think you qualify as a complete idiot.  Term Limits at the state level deliver fresh faces, fresh intellects and fresh ideas.  If it is such a futile fix to the meritocracy, why does every person destined to be held in check by the idea, hate the idea.  DRAIN the SWAMP.  This is a good start.