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Joey Harrington
Mr. Burchett
Honors Government 5
2 November, 2015
Why We Need Term Limits
Today in the United States, Congress is plagued by inefficiencies and hindrances which
cause it to work far worse than it was intended to. Among the greatest issues facing the the
system of government is the current terms of the House of Representatives. Currently,
Representatives serve two-year terms and have no limitations on the number of terms they serve.
The United States of America must implement a limit of three four-year terms on the house of
representatives in order to increase political diversity, become more representative of the people,
and foster productivity in Congress.
The first benefit of these term limits is an increase in political diversity. Right now, it is
extremely difficult to vote Representatives out of office. In fact, historically the incumbent is
reelected over 90% of the time (Weeks), and this is definitely not to say that 90% of incumbents
act favorably. Actually, a 2015 poll rated the job that this Congress is doing with a favorability of
only 5% (Congressional). There is a huge disconnect in the political system when members of
Congress have such a pitifully low approval rating yet are almost unanimously allowed to stay in
office. Term limits are the simplest way to prevent so many do-nothing incumbents from being
reelected. Elections for open seats are not only more competitive, but they also yield a higher
election rate for women and minorities (Crane). Thus, a system in which term limits are in place
would create an environment which includes more opinions and more perspectives from many

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This increase of diversity would actually make Americas representative democracy
more representative of the real political positions of the people. In the late 1980s and early
1990s, views of people in the upper third of the income distribution received about 50% more
weight than those in the middle third, and those of the bottom third received almost no weight in
the voting decisions of representatives (Bartels). This is largely because of how tied
representatives are to special interests who fund them, but it is also because the demographic of
representatives in Congress is not representative of both the cultural and ideological backgrounds
of the population. In addition, as many as 75% of Americans support them (Saad), and many
forms of term limits already exist in the United States. For example, about 20 state legislatures
have term limits, and the G.O.P. has adopted a six-year term limit for committee chairpeople
(Mulvaney). These term limits have increased turnover and prevented lobbyists from
manipulating legislators as they had been, allowing legislators to work unbound to special
The greatest benefit of these term limits is increased productivity. The 112th Congress
passed fewer laws than any Congress before it (Horsey). Congress is far too polarized, and it is
nearly impossible to get a law passed with such a polarization. With term limits however, parties
would not be able to rely on their old, vehement leaders. New representatives would not have as
strong opinions as old ones, and this would allow them to make decisions based on wheter it
makes sense or not, not just by their party line. According to Martin Rossi, shorter terms
discourage effort in office due to an investment payback logic (Rossi). Representatives spend
most of their two years in Congress fundraisingtheir investmentin order to be reelectedthe
payback. They are locked in an indefinite cycle in which they can stay, make millions of dollars,
and almost certainly be reelected simply because they are already there. With term limits, there

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would be no cycle. Representatives would be more focused on policy than publicity, and they
would get more done. In addition, since new legislators do not try to implement sweeping
bureaucratic acts, states with these limits have seen large decreases in the size of government. In
states where the state legislature has term limits, like New Hampshire, it has resulted in both
more minimal parliament and more fiscal freedom (Ruger). However, not all agree that term
limits are necessary or effective.
Opponents of term limits say that the democracy already creates limits because an
ineffective incumbent can just be voted out of office every two years. However, voting someone
out of office is much more difficult than it is assumed to be. In 2010, the average incumbent in
the House raised around $1.4 million, while the challengers averaged $166,000. With 90% of
incumbents being reelected and having such vastly greater budgets on campaigns (Weeks), it is
nearly impossible to simply vote someone out of office. An additional argument is that
representatives would not be able to earn the same experience that they would staying in the
house for more years. However, in states like California, which also have term limits but are
more liberal, term limits have resulted in politicians jumping from position to position, a state
assemblyman one term, a senator in another term, and a city mayor the next (Ruger). This
jumping has created a stronger government across political boundaries through new perspectives
and old experience. Surely, some will have less experience, but longer terms will give them
enough time to learn, especially when they are not preoccupied with fundraising.
It is imperative that term limits be enacted in the House of Representatives. As one of the
two main legislative bodies in America, the House must work effectively. The current lack of
accurate representation, political diversity, and efficiency in Congress can best be solved with
term limits and longer terms. Term limits are a badly needed change for American democracy.

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Works Cited
Print Sources:
Crane, Edward H., and Roger Pilon. The Politics and Law of Term Limits. Washington, D.C.:
Cato Institute, 1994. Print.
Ruger, William P., and Jason Sorens. "Freedom in the 50 States." Ruger-Sorens Index. Fairfax,
Virginia.: George Mason University. 2014. Print.
Web Sources:
Bartels, Larry M. "Inequality and Political Stability." Economic Inequality and Political
Representation (2005): n. pag. Princeton University, Aug. 2005.
Web.Sept. 2015.
"Congressional Performance." Rasmussen Reports. Ramussen Reports, 10 Sept. 2015. Web. 18
Sept. 2015.
Crane, Edward H. "Congressional Term Limits." Cato Institute. CATO Institute, 25 Jan. 1995.
Web. 19 Oct. 2015.
Horsey, David. "Derelict 112th Congress Sets New Record for Low Achievement." Los Angeles
Times. Los Angeles Times, 03 Jan. 2013. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.
Mulvaney, Mick. "Change Is Good for Congress." US News. US News, 16 Jan. 2015. Web. 19
Oct. 2015.
Rossi, Martn A. "Review of Economic Studies." Term Length and the Effort of Politicians.
Oxford University, Feb. 2011. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.
Saad, Lydia. "Americans Call for Term Limits, End to Electoral College." Gallup,

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18 Jan. 2013. Web. 25 Sept. 2015.
Weeks, Bob. "Arguments for and against Term Limits." Voice For Liberty in Wichita. Wichita
Library, 30 May 2014. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.