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Monday, January 13, 2014

XXVIII

If you were in a position to do so, what would you propose as Constitutional Amendment XXVIII?

How about limiting Congressional terms the way the 22nd amendment limits Presidents to two consecutive terms? Given the gridlock paralyzing our Legislative branch in recent memory, isn't this an idea whose time has arrived? My amendment would allow no Senator or Representative to serve more than five consecutive terms. As an incentive to continue attracting talented people, anyone who serves the full twenty years, i.e. is re-elected four times, would be entitled to a partial federal Government pension. Where in our Constitution is it written these were potentially lifetime jobs? How effective was Strom Thurmond at 90+ years old?
  
Obstacle: The very people whose terms would be limited would be unlikely to support such an amendment. Solution: A national referendum, placed on the presidential ballot, so voters can make their wishes known, with the amendment subsequently adopted only if the mandated 2/3 of the States ratify it.

I clearly recall the clamor for term limits in 1996, the year Newt Gingrich became Speaker of the House. The idea had great appeal to me then; I admired people who campaigned on the promise to serve no more than two terms, although I would have been satisfied if they'd said four. That was 17 years ago. Any guesses how many of those Freshmen Representatives elected to the 104th Congress left voluntarily after being re-elected the first time? How about after they served 12 years? 16? Is it any wonder public trust in Congress is at an all-time low?

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