Term Limits was widely debated in the media in 1989 so schools in
twenty-Iour states were motivated to enter our Term Limits contest.
We wanted young people to know that adults wanted to hear their
opinion regarding public policy in the country they would inherit and
to encourage them to take an active role in the various layers oI
government at an early age. To this end we took a minimum oI one
excerpt Irom every entry. We ordered them to tell a story that
conveyed the various viewpoints we discovered as we read the essays.

We didn`t print proIessionally bound books in 1990. but did prepare
Ieedback Ior the participating schools. their local press and all 535
members oI Congress. As the excerpts were identiIied only by state.
in our cover letters to the members oI Congress we mentioned the
schools that participated Irom their states and suggested they
commend the teacher and students.
Like so many oI the issues debated over the past twenty years. the
term limit issue persists today. Over the years there has been some
progress at the state and city level. In the appendix we have listed the
15 states that had term limits Ior elected oIIicials as oI 2008.
However. there has not been much movement at the Iederal level.
Required Reading and Questions became an integral part oI our
contests in 1993. I have included Required Reading and Questions in
this book as an example. Also in the appendix we`ve updated the
issue with a selection oI pro and con discussions..
We hope that readers will Iind the subiect and excerpts interesting.
but more importantly. realize that young people are interested in
public policy issues and in some instances only need an introduction
and an audience. Today you are that audience.
Margaret Bohannon-Kaplan, Co-Founder
The Harry Singer Foundation
Carmel, California
November 24, 2008

The 1989-1990 Harry Singer Foundation
National High School Essay Contest

Subject: Should Terms of Those Serving
In The House of Representatives
Be Limited? Why, How or Why Not?

First Prize = $100

Second Prize = $ 50

Third Prize = $ 25
The prizes will be awarded at every school entering ten or more
students. Winners will be selected and schools notified on or
before May 22, 1990.

The essay may be the result of a classroom assignment or may be
written independent of all normal classes.

Presentation to be typed, double spaced and between 750 and
1000 words in length.
Essays must be submitted to the Harry Singer Foundation before
noon May 1, 1990. P. O. Box 223159Carmel, California 93922

1989-1990 Harry Singer Foundation
National Essay Contest

Subject: Should Terms of Those Serving In The
House of Representatives
Be Limited? Why, How or Why Not?

The Iollowing are excerpts taken Irom the 1990 Essay Contest papers
submitted by students Irom schools across the country. In 1990 we
didn't publish students' names. Quotes were identiIied only by state.

'Either way someone is going to lose this battle. whether it be the
Representatives themselves. by losing the privilege oI running Ior
unlimited terms. or the U.S. citizens who lose interest in the voting
process because they Ieel their votes don't make a diIIerence. I
myselI am Ior limiting Representative terms. This would make
us. the citizens. winners because we would be able to Ieel
our votes actually made a diIIerence and that the people we
vote in will actually accomplish something. AIter all. democracy was
set up Ior the people. not Ior the people running government.¨
'And iI the American public is too lazy to research their candidates.
let us prevent them Irom voting Ior the same incumbent Ior thirty
years. In light oI these Iacts it is most iust and democratic to limit the
terms oI those serving in the House oI Representatives to twelve year
terms.¨ |It is likely the student was reIerring to six 2-year terms.|
'The eIIects oI limited terms would not iust aIIect individual
representatives; it would also greatly aIIect party politics. This is a
very strong Iorce in Congress. II the terms would to be limited.
that would mean that there would be a greater turnover rate oI
representatives. which in turn would mean a greater variance in
the number oI members belonging to a certain party. With
power shiIting Irom party to party. the inIluence oI party politics
would decrease. This means that representatives could vote to beneIit
their constituents and not be so intimidated by crossing party lines. I
Ieel that less party politics would be greatly beneIicial in itselI. There
are many good legislative ideas that never come into being simply
because they were proposed by the minority rather than the maiority
South Dakota
'Some people argue that limiting Representatives terms would reduce
the power oI the House. I do not believe that I agree with that. It
may even make it somewhat stronger. There would be new
Iresh people coming in with new ideas. and the people would work
harder to get the iob done beIore their term is through.¨
South Carolina
'Those against limiting the number oI terms Ieel that iI the voters do
not like the iob being done then they can vote them out. But that is
not always true. II the opposing candidate is not too well known. the
incumbent is likely to win.¨
'The whole idea that once a person is elected to the House that they
remain on the ballot to be reelected. or until someone beats them. is
ridiculous. This shows how voters can be unwise and continue voting
Ior a certain person iust because they recognize the name or enioy
some privileges that come Irom that certain representative. All
people. no matter iI they are rich or not. should have a Iair chance in
beating an incumbent. Limiting the terms would accomplish exactly
'However some may ask why should a person be removed or
unseated` iI he or she is proIicient in all aspects oI his or her work.
The answer I give is that in this country we practice the process oI
everyone having a chance to prove him or herselI. II we do not set
limits to the terms set in the House oI Representatives. people will be
Iorced to vote Ior the politician who has been re-elected time aIter
time because they are aIraid oI change or 'ruining a good thing' ¨
'II the voting citizens were Iorced to make a choice between three
brand new candidates every so many years. they would wake up and
take a more active interest in what is happening in our government.¨
'Reasons supporting the amendment. however. are much simpler: too
many incumbents stay elected Ior decades at a time; too many
businesses thrive on having a permanent ally in the legislature; too
much pressure oI getting re-elected increases need Ior campaign
Iinancing; and too Iew voters actually know what is going on. Since
the pressure oI campaign money and Iavors Irom wealthy constituents
is obviously prevalent. what will stop every single representative
Irom becoming permanent dupes Ior the rich and inIluential?
At least with a limit on the number oI terms. big business will not
have nearly as Iirm a grasp on the hearts. minds and bank accounts oI
'Term limits would make it possible Ior leadership positions to
change hands more oIten. and that would produce leaders who are
more aware oI new and important issues Iacing Congress.¨
'On the other hand. in a case in which a representative is not doing
his iob the way that it should be done. it is up to each and every
registered voter to make sure that representative is not re-elected. It
may not always be the politicians that are making the mistakes; it
could be the voters that are making the mistake oI electing them in the
Iirst place. I believe that it is corrupt citizens that cause us to have
corrupt politicians. This is the problem with politics these days. and I
think that a representative that is doing his iob and helping our
country to prosper in some way. should not be penalized or limited to
a certain number oI terms iust because their time is up.¨
'II the representatives in the House did not hold the viewpoints and
opinions oI the people. then they would not be representatives. Re-
election every two years helps the voters to have a say-so in the
perIormance oI their representative. The more the people are allowed
a say-so in their government the happier the people will be and the
more inIormed the representatives will be concerning changing ideas
and opinions. The people give these representatives the power to run
this country and without the consent oI the people there could be no
South Carolina
'Limiting the number oI terms may cause legislative members to lose
contact with voters because they would not have to worry about re-
election. This could lead to widespread abuse oI representative
'II the representative knows he could get re-elected. he will be more
apt to do his iob.¨
'II the community wants a person to be elected a third or a
Iourth or even a tenth time. then let it be. Don't put a restraint on
what the voters want.... I am oI the opinion that excluding
a congressman with valuable experience is a huge waste.¨
'No sense throwing away good members simply because their
time has run out. When the incumbent decides to retire or his
or her spot needs to be Iilled due to vacancy. then let's put
in a new member. not because his time is up.¨
South Dakota
'Individuals in both the House oI Representatives and the Senate are
not perIect. But isn't it the right and responsibility oI the voter to
determine whether or not they are Iit Ior oIIice? Yes. it is. I Ieel that iI
the voters are properly inIormed and motivated that t hey will make
the right decision. No one has the right to take that away Irom them
'Limiting the terms oI congressmen would be a negative Iorce
because it would cause loss oI experience. prevent the Iruition oI
ideas. and deny the American people the right to decide who
'In this case. iI someone is doing a good enough iob to keep getting
re-elected by the people he/she represents. let them keep doing it Ior
as long as the people want them to. A government oI the people. Ior
the people and by the peopleisn't that how it is supposed to work?¨
South Carolina
'Certainly. we as American voters. attempt to elect the candidates
who we Ieel exempliIy the characteristics we demand Irom
the work Iorce. But the task becomes diIIicult when a candidate
reaches a point and/or age when he cannot successIully complete
these duties. This is why a Representative's term oI oIIice should be
limited to Iour terms. with a mandatory retirement age oI 72.¨
'I Ieel the terms shouldn't be limited to only two or Iour terms.
Representatives do need to acquire some experience in Congress. and
Iour or eight years isn't long enough Ior that. But I don't think
that they should be there Ior twenty-Iive and thirty years.
I think twenty years or ten terms is suIIicient time Ior the
representatives to acquire the knowledge and experience they are
'An idea may be to say a person may not run Ior election Ior
the House oI Representatives aIter the age oI seventy. Those
who have served over IiIteen terms may no longer serve as a
representative but will receive twelve thousand dollars a year Ior
the rest oI their liIe. Since the other two branches have ideas like this
we should include this type oI idea Ior the legislature.¨
'By staying out Ior a 2-year term aIter serving Ior six years would
give any representative ample opportunity to travel into all
communities to visit with the people. People have many constructive
ideas. and by having a lot oI input. the legislator could sort out
valuable inIormation to Iile Ior Iuture use while listening sincerely to
'The old Representatives don't have to worry about problems like the
deIicit because it doesn't aIIect them. It is the younger generation's
problem now.¨
'The terms oI those persons serving in the United States House oI
Representatives should be limited because oI corruption. tyranny and
'A mandatory retirement age oI 70 should be adopted. This would
allow Ior a person to have a late appearance on the national
scene and still be able to serve a large number oI years. A mandatory
retirement at age 70 would not allow Representatives to
serve terms up to the point at which they can no longer Iunction
properly. A Representative should be allowed to Iinish the term that
he is serving when the mandatory retirement age is reached.¨
'I don't think that a representative that has been in Congress Ior thirty
years should be making decisions that will aIIect the Iuture lives oI
my generation. and not theirs. The people that should be making those
decisions should be people new to the House oI Representatives; they
should be aware oI the newer generation's values and belieIs and be
able to make the best decisions Ior us. I am not saying there needs to
be a limit on the age a representative can be. there iust needs to be a
limit on how long a person can be in the House oI Representatives.
This limit will allow people that have recently been part oI the
general public to make the decisions that will be aIIecting the general
'I think the younger generation is more willing to work. and they
seem to get things done quicker than they are getting done now. Also
they will more concern Ior our government and our people. The
younger generation will have more and new ideas. Maybe more kids
ages 18-24 would vote iI they could identiIy with the candidates.¨
'At the present time there are several people in the House that are
well over 70 years oI age. Usually. as a person ages. he becomes
very set in his views on politics and liIe in general. There is a much
higher percentage oI people under the age oI 70 in the United
States. It stands to reason that because a maiority oI our
representatives are older citizens. the younger generation is possibly
in danger oI not being represented in the best manner.¨
'Most older people would tend to stick with one person. usually
the incumbent. no matter what he does. The older generation
is iust not inIormed enough. They are not open to change and
thereIore none will happen. Some people iust don't realize what
new minds in the House oI Representatives could do.¨
'The other issue to me is that we pay tax dollars that go
toward the campaign Iunds with no change back. This means
that when elections come again and that candidate runs he
still gets oII like a Iat cat because they have the millions oI
dollars leIt over Irom the previous campaign to keep campaigning.
I would suggest that they should be required to do something
useIul with the money. such as help those who are in need. Whatever;
there needs to be some kind oI law addressing this issue. It
doesn't have to be as I've stated it. but something along those terms.¨

'I Ieel that one month should be given to all representatives
to campaign Ior re-election...Problems oI the two year term
include: the high cost oI campaigning every two years. the
workload oI members and their staIIs. midterm elections because
they usually result in a reduced amount oI the number oI
the President's party in Congress (but some claim this as a
strength) and Irequent campaigning is a problem because it
takes time away Irom his/her legislative responsibilities.¨

'In more populated states that have more representatives. iI most oI
them are re-elected year aIter year. they may begin to Iorm cliques.
Then they may work together to push ideas through Congress and into
bills which may mainly be to the beneIit oI their state or their own
interests. This is where I Ieel states with a lower population and Iewer
representatives are at a disadvantage.... I live in South Dakota where
we only have one representative and wonder iI he doesn't get cheated
out oI debating on some issues iI other representatives gang up on

'A way to get everyone's opinion about this topic is by letting the
people have a chance to speak up. One way I thought oI is when we
vote Ior the representative. On the ballot there should be a question to
answer iI you want the term oI the representative to be limited.¨

'I love the country in which I live.... but it is also disturbing and
sad that when I walk out oI this school next year I had better hope
that I know some very inIluential people. Schools are to teach
you English. algebra. history. but do they have the right to
show to the students that most everything in liIe that they will
do will be based on politics? Maybe they teach these things to prepare
us Ior what liIe truly is.; but then what does a person have to look
Iorward to. to dream Ior? This country is based on the dreams oI

'The power oI the incumbency still remain a problem. In order to
deal with this. the incumbent must IorIeit several oI his advantages
or simply give an extra advantage to his opponent. For example. the
incumbent should only be allowed to have one-halI oI the campaign
Iunds his or her opponent is able to raise to run Ior oIIice.¨

'Americans oIten complain about the corruption that exists in today's
political world. but somehow Iail to realize that they are primarily

'Looking at our government today Irom a teenager's point oI
view may not seem that important to adults. But looking ahead
twenty or thirty years will show us that we will be the ones
in the Senate and we will be the ones representing the people
in the House oI Representatives. Since this is true. I think
young teens should take a good look at the government and come
up with some logical answers to the problems we Iace today.¨

'In short. I believe that the Iollowing ought to be enIorced in the
House oI Representatives: 1. Require Iull disclosure oI the member's
Iinancial holdings and income. his inIluence on executive branch
departments and regulatory agencies. 2. Require Iull disclosure oI the
member's donation sources. 3. A limited amount oI money that can be
spent on campaign eIIorts and a ban on donations Irom lobbying
companies and organizations. 4. A limited term oI two Iour year
terms. 5. A system oI checks and balances where constituents report
on the positions and actions representatives are taking.¨

'Many powerIul businessmen are interested in politics and can
buy or inIluence votes. Once the man or woman is in that they
want in. they can tell them how to vote. This usually comes to the
people with experience because they are more likely to get re-elected.
It ends up with the business world controlling the government.¨

'II they are older and have been in oIIice Ior awhile they tend to
become less concerned with issues and more concerned with iust
making people happy by lying. They also have a tendency to take
bribes.... When someone has run Ior an oIIice and has held it Ior
awhile. they do not care iI they make some bad decisions because
they Iigure iI they do not get re-elected they have done enough and
made enough money to be happy and they can iust retire.¨

'My Iaith in politics is near extinction. All too oIten I hear
oI deceitIul dealings. an improper Iinancial handling by Presidential
hopeIuls. Senators and Representatives. I think that there ought
to be a limit on the number oI terms that Representatives may serve
because the scandals seem to be brought on by Representatives
who have been in the House too long. By limiting terms.
we are sending a clear message to all Representatives that we mean
business. No longer will we tolerate inequitable representation.¨

'Making American better is more important that making the public
happy. This may seem like a contradiction. but it is not. When parents
tell their children what to do. the children may not like it. but oIten
they do not understand why their parents make them do it. The
maiority oI the American public is like children; too naive to realize
what may seem bad is actually good Ior America. Members oI the
House oI Representatives should be their parents. perIorm the tasks
that need to be done regardless oI whether the public understands
why or not. They cannot do this now because iI they appear to have
poor iudgment the American people. will not re-elect them.¨

'In today's world oI political corruption. it's time we take a
step back and look at our government. When the Constitution
oI the United States oI America was written in 1787. the people
who Iramed it were all honest men. concerned with only one thing; to
create and protect a strong. independent. Iree nation. They were men
like Alexander Hamilton. James Madison. and Beniamin Franklin;
men who put hours oI work into creating the perIect 'law oI the land'.
In Article I. Section I. Congress was given all legislative powers. and
divided into two houses; the Senate and the House oI Representatives.
Since 1787 many things have changed; the Constitution had to be
amended 26 times and many oI the men who are in our Congress are
not as respectable and prestigious as were their IoreIathers.¨
Some excerpts below provide food for thought; others provide
'Fresh ideas could become a thing oI the past.¨ Ohio

'Many people will throw out an apple iI they Iind a wormhole in it. I.
on the other hand. say make cider out oI it. II there are incompetent
Congressmen in our House oI Representatives. then I believe that the
people should squeeze them out come election time.¨

'Politicians are not real people.¨ |What or who are they then?|
'People who have been in Congress Ior Iorty or IiIty years may still
hold the same worn out viewpoints on certain issues.
That is a scary thought when you think that Iorty or IiIty years ago.
guys sat on the opposite end oI the couch as the girl on a date.¨

'Sooner or later we are all going to pass on. The death oI an
incumbent is one way Ior new people to be able to obtain a seat
in the House oI Representatives. Even though it may not be so
glamorous. it is still Iair and it is a ticket to be publicly recognized.¨

'Moreover. iI Iewer campaigns are necessary Ior representatives.
maybe Iewer babies will catch colds Irom sickly politicians.¨

'Looking at it Irom the bad side. liIetime memberships are capable oI
producing problems. No term limits means incumbents could stay in

'The terms oI our representatives is a very pressing issue
anyway you choose to look at it.... It's iust too bad it could not be
as easily resolved as would the decision as to whether everyone in
the House oI Representatives should eat broccoli or not.¨
'I don't think there should be any oI this liIe term stuII because the
representative becomes like Iood that has been in the reIrigerator too
long. It spoils and is useless to everyone. So let us iust keep the
reIrigerator stocked with Iresh. new ideas and keep our states running

'Two years isn't a long time-span Ior a representative. It may seem
long Ior some workers who work. Ior example. in a clothing store or
maybe secretarial iobs. but in a high class (iob) such as the House oI
Representatives. it's considered a pretty short time-span.¨

'Proponents contend that new Iaces will bring new ideas. This is a
trite argument on which to base a serious decision. Most oI these 'new
ideas' proposed by these 'new Iaces' are simply the 'old ideas' oI 'old

The excerpts below show some students were confused:

'In the United States people have the right to vote Ior whomever
they wish running Ior the position. That is not the case in the
House oI Representatives. Americans are not granted with the
right to elect these representatives. Like in the communist
nations. these representatives are appointed by a speciIic
group oI political oIIicials known as Congress. Isn't that
un-American? Isn't that a Iorm oI communist dictatorship?
We the people do not have the right to elect our own House oI
Representatives.there are too many Representatives. Is it really
necessary Ior us to have one hundred and two oI them?...during his
six year term our Representative did nothing oI signiIicance.¨

|To set the record straight-American citizens do elect their
Representatives. CaliIornia had 52 Representatives in 1990. The term
oI a U.S. Representative is two yearsa U.S. Senate term is six

'Some oI the representatives who are in the House Ior a long time are
known as conservatives. A conservative is someone who keeps the
governmental ideas as they were. not making any changes.the
people who voted them into oIIice oIten wonder why they voted Ior
them in the Iirst place. AIter a while people wonder when there will
be any change. When there are changes that are wanted by the people.
A conservative is the last person you would want in oIIice. So in the
next election. to no one's surprise. a liberal would most likely
be voted in. A liberal is the type oI person who wants a change in
the previous conservative ideas. As long as the people are
happy with the changes he makes. that person will be in oIIice Ior a
while. A conservative is content with a good government. while a
liberal will try to make a good government into a great one.¨
Massachusetts |It may be that Democrats see no conIusion here.|

'At this time. members oI the House oI Representatives serve a Iour
year term.¨|MisinIormation. regarding a representative`s legitimate
term oI service and years between elections was plentiIul.¨
South Dakota
'I personally think that a term oI six years is too long Ior a
representative. I think that the term should be shortened. at least to
three year terms. There are several reasons why I think the term
should be shortened...I think that the Representative would be more
accountable Ior their actions iI they had to be elected every three

'The second reason why United States Representatives should not be
allowed to serve more than one term is that it is unconstitutional.¨

'Back in the time oI Theodore Roosevelt's presidency. he ran into
trouble with the Supreme Court concerning his New Deal programs.¨

Below are advantages that occur when new members join the
house of representatives. More examples are in the Appendix.

'The rookie has an enviable quality; inexperience. A representative
returning to oIIice Ior the Iourth time Ieels that he knows what tactics
or legislation will work and what won't. He has placed limits on his
abilities and power to aid the people by setting limits on the extent oI
his iob. A new politician. ala Mr. Smith. has room Ior idealism. He
can take risks because the system has not dulled his daring. He can
take risks because oI naïvete. or unIamiliarity with the ways oI
'II terms are limited. the House would gain momentum; there would
never be anyone there permanently. With each new member. new
ideas would be presented increasing the House's knowledge each

'The incumbent Ieels the pressure oI his colleagues. A person Iresh to
Congress Ieels the pressure to do what's best Ior the people he/she
represents. The Iormalities oI politics are yet to be learned; in the
mean meantime. there is the Ireedom inexperience can oIIer. We need
Representatives who haven't been shaped by habits. A Iresh
perspective on current issues can be the key to creative solutions to
problems. Vitality in the House lends vitality to the government.¨

'These representatives will bring with them a Iresh knowledge oI the
problems their people are Iacing. and a lot oI new ideas to help solve
those problems. They will have possibly already been Iacing some oI
those problems themselves. so they will know what it is like to be on
the side having the problems and not iust be on the side that makes
the solutions. Having new people in the House oI Representatives
more oIten will help give Congress an extra edge in dealing with

'Let the new generation with new ideas in and toss them around
awhile. They might actually be as good or better than the old ones!¨

Below students layout several disadvantages that occur
when there is no turnover in the House of Representatives:

'The thought oI new ideas and new (inexperienced) Iaces is well
received. but it should not necessarily be considered more important
or better than experienced representatives. Certain proposals or ideas
Irom entrenched incumbents may not Iare better than Irom old.

'Even iI it came to pass that the number oI terms oI a
Congressman were to be limited. it would probably not improve
the system oI legislature that we now have. We would have all
these energetic and zealous young Congressmen who would not
have the know-how to operate at the high level oI excellence
that experienced legislators would have. In short. nothing can
really adequately be substituted in the place oI experience.¨

'By limiting the number oI terms Ior Congressmen and women.
a constant succession oI new people and new ideas are rushed
through the system.... Contradictory laws may be passed due to
rapid changes and the mindsets represented.... The same succession oI
mindsets may cause dramatic changes in the Iocus oI spending.¨

'An incumbent already knows the ropes and can continue almost
without stopping. This means that programs that he/she was working
on. will continue to get attention instead oI being put aside while
someone is trying to Iigure out what is going on.¨ South Carolina

'There is a need Ior diversity in the House to prevent the younger
generation Irom dominating the older. Programs Ior the elders are
needed or else there will be a tragedy among the older generation in
that iI the youth does not care Ior them. who will? This is also true Ior
the younger generation as well. The old must care Ior the young and
vice versa. This mix oI ideas is needed Ior the country to Iunction.¨

'Where is the borderline oI old and experienced and old and Ieeble-
'The subiect oI experience is another reason Ior unlimited terms.
Experience in any Iield is a valuable assist when used right. A House
member may be unable to attain his desired goals his Iirst Iew
terms because oI inexperience. With age or length oI service he
might Iigure out some oI the tricks that it takes to get a bill that
represents his constituents' ideas passed. A senior member also gives
the House stability when it re-convenes aIter an election.¨
'The older members get. the wiser their decisions will become.
However. it could also turn in the opposite direction.¨ South Carolina

'Overall. the older people. or in other words. more experienced
people. know what has worked and Iailed. Experience. then. is one oI
the key points to why terms should be kept unlimited.¨

'Older members oI Congress should be able to propose more new
legislation because they have more old legislation to draw Irom."

'There needs to be an equal representation between young and old
members oI the House. Young representatives will be more
concerned about the government. land and national debt simply
because they are young and will be aIIected by these things Ior a
longer time. On the other hand. older members will be concerned with
social security and Medicare. A more equal representation between
the age groups will cause a better representation oI the people.¨

'Members oI the House oI Representatives with many years oI
experience in oIIice have a niche in our complex legal system. They
also have witnessed changes in our society and reIormation within it.
Consequently. previous knowledge has given them insight Ior the
Iuture while coping with diIIerent types oI people has made them
Ilexible. They know how to accomplish tasks and their dealings with
various individuals enables them to complete this. Their vast
relationships with members oI their party. governmental employees.
and those with similar ideals all assist in completing the elimination
oI problems. They are a history book in themselves. a mixture oI past.
present and subsequent problems to be solved. They have remained
reliable and thereIore. are 'pillars oI our society'. For these reasons.
those in the House oI Representatives should not be discriminated
against because oI their years oI honorable service to America.¨
Politicians--heroes or scoundrels?

The problem is...
'My only complaint is that issues discussed during campaigning
are localized instead oI national. because as a Representative oI
the United States. they'll be dealing with many national issues.¨

'II people don't like the iob that their Representative is doing.
then they should do something about it. The only way to get
into oIIice is to be elected. People oI the United States need
to exercise their right to vote more and get qualiIied people into
oIIice. Another thing members oI the public could do is to run
Ior oIIices themselves. Many times Representatives are elected
into oIIice simply because they are the only candidate on the ballot.¨

'Bureaucracy is oI course unstoppable and inevitable. but it can
be limited by having as many civically minded and responsible
individuals as possible enter the House.¨
South Carolina

'The purpose oI government. and more speciIically the democratic
United States government. is to let the people. by way oI representa-
tives. decide the needs and laws oI the country. Representatives are
chosen by the people to do a service; represent them. This service
should not become a proIession or a liIetime occupation. A Represen-
tative should be honored to serve Ior one or two terms and then return
to a normal liIestyle among the grassroots oI America. This would
allow other individuals to |attempt to do| the wishes oI the people and
bring new thoughts and energy to the House.¨

if you can't stand the heat…

'Many times it seems that members who have been in oIIice a long
time are not receptive to new ideas. They also Iail to act quickly and
eIIiciently when new problems arise and Iind it diIIicult to deal
accordingly with such problems. As members oI Congress get older.
they lose touch with the new generations. The public's needs and
belieIs should be the essence oI the Representative's iob.¨

'In every election since 1960. the House has moved Iurther away
Irom the people. The House oI Representatives is no longer a cradle
oI democracy. but an impenetrable chamber oI proIessional

'UnIortunately Americans look upon the problems our leaders
have caused or the problems our leaders have not stopped. with
the attitude that 'they are doing the best that they can'. This may
be true. but the problems are still there. Our leaders look at many
issues everyday. but it always seems the same ones pop up and
the same ones get shuIIled to the bottom oI the pile. II our leaders
cannot take care oI the most obvious problems. what are they going
to do when an unnoticed problem slips by their Iingertips?¨

'The House oI Representatives gets all hung up in regulating
businesses and people; they Iorget to regulate themselves¨

'A Senator can disregard the will oI his electors during the Iirst
two years oI his term and still hope that the people would Iorget
by the time he stands Ior the re-election Iour years later. Even
Presidents enioy a honeymoon during their Iirst year in oIIice when
they can do pretty much as they please without Iearing a back-lash
Irom the citizens three years later; members oI the House. how-ever.
must be in tune with their constituents Irom the very Iirst day they
take oIIice.¨
New York

'What concerns me is to think oI our representatives not having
enough back bone to stick up Ior what is right Ior Iear oI not being re-
elected. Is it their iob to be re-elected year aIter year or is it to do
what is right no matter who approves? It doesn't matter what your iob
is. Irom being employed at McDonalds to having an oIIice in the
House. What matters is iI the iob is being done to the best ability it
can be done.¨

Incumbents have so many advantages they are almost
impossible to beat!

'II they lose their iob as a representative. their next iob is a step
downward. In order to please as many voters as possible. congress-
men take very lukewarm positions on most topics. They are scared to
have strong opinions which may oIIend voters.¨

'America has a great supply oI citizens who would be oI great public
service. but most members run unopposed or are so well Iinanced by
special-interest groups and wealthy individuals that other citizens
hardly have a chance.¨

'II a representative could serve only a 2-year term our younger gener-
ation might get a chance to develop their ideas in today's age as it
should be. What is our chance when a person who is already a rep-
resentative knows more people and has more money to campaign than
any other candidate? That's why it's unIair to the younger generation
unless he knows as many people and has the money to buy himselI in.
which undoubtedly would be impossible to do.¨
North Dakota

'Due to the Iact that the maiority oI the members oI the House oI
Representatives choose to maintain their positions until they retire.
they will continue to run in elections. with a good chance at winning.
their advantages lie in the Iact that. having already served. they have
made themselves Iamiliar to the public. Many voters do not bother to
research the other runners involved in a House election; they simply
vote Ior a name that they recognize on the ballot.¨

'Citizens do not and can not take the time out to be overly involved in
their government and Ior those who take time enough to vote. their
obvious choice is Ior the name they had heard once beIore. maybe at
a party somewhere. It would be stretching it to say that even over halI
oI the people in the U.S. know who their representatives are. let alone
who ran against them last year. With good or bad credentials. those
once elected have a great advantage over those running Ior the Iirst
time. iust on the Iact that he has more name recognition than his
opponent. Those motivated by the desire to become re-elected will
become re-elected.¨

'Few citizens evaluate representatives on their views or vote on
issues. UnIortunately. members oI Congress are iudged on how they
serve their people. their communications with the district. attendance
records. small Iavors done over the years. and unimportant matters.¨
New York

'Congressmen. Senators. Mayors and House members have been
accused oI being dishonest. To cure this problem we need to be more
selective in choosing our government leaders and be more restrictive
once they are chosen. It seems that our current leaders have been
given too many privileges and too much Ireedom that has been taken
advantage oI.¨

We the people…
'When a truly controversial topic arises. such as abortion or capital
punishment. you can bet groups on both sides oI the issue will also
arise. These groups take an active part in swaying borderline
politicians' decisions. This. along with voting. is how the general
public can take part in the government. When I hear common people
passionately arguing over politics. I am Iilled with pride and realize
that democracy will not die as long as the people believe in it and take

'It seems that the citizens oI the United States are too willing to sit
back and let the government do all the work. Voter participation is
absolutely terrible and it is not looking any better Ior the Iuture.¨
'There are always citizens that advocate Ior change. Maybe iI
Congressmen were changed more oIten. a larger number oI people
would be content with the status quo and the world would be a better

'The biggest obstacle is that the House would have to vote on term
limits. It would be their choice whether or not to limit their own
terms. It seems almost impossible that they would do this. Persuasion
Irom citizens cannot hurt. Do not Ieel that your voice does not count.
You elected them. and you have a right to speak your mind.¨
'As Iar as not getting any new and Iresh ideas into the House oI
Representatives. iI one is so concerned. it is permissible to write to
members oI Congress and tell them how you Ieel and what you think
should be done.. It is every citizen's duty to vote and write to his or
her congress member. That`s the only way term limits or any other
changes that people want will happen. It is being patriotic.¨

'The new generations are increasingly disillusioned with the
government. They Ieel that it is a great big bureaucracy and that the
people who hold oIIice care nothing Ior them. Legislators who have
held oIIice Ior many years are oIten unconcerned with new and
important issues such as the environment. minority rights and many
other issues. Many people Ieel leIt out oI the government simply
because it does not represent them and what they care about. It`s too
bad that many oI these people no longer bother to vote. An alarmingly
small number oI eighteen-year-olds bother to register or vote. This
helps prevent new people with new ideas Irom being elected.¨
South Carolina
'Most people don't know what their Representative is doing. but they
ought to know. People need to be better educated about how the
government runs.. The voters oI America should not be blind to
what is going on in our country; especially about those topics which
could inIluence their lives. II people were more educated about
politics. there we`d deIinitely have more qualiIied citizens voting.¨

'II the voters elect a person to serve Ior several terms. then it is the
voters' Iault that this person served too many terms. A lack oI
education by the people is a democracy's greatest worry. but until that
time when all the members oI the electorate are well educated.
there is virtually no way in which a better system Ior elections could
be developed.¨
New Jersey

'II we expect our Congressmen to help make our country the best. we
too must take part in the transition. Ultimately. we have the power to
decide who will be elected and what will be done. and united we have
the power to see that beneIicial legislation is enacted. We have to be
responsive to the actions oI Congress. It is our obligation to become
inIormed. Each vote we cast represents the trust we have put into that

'It is up to the voters to do their civil duty and vote. thereby
preventing any and all unnecessary changes in regards to limiting
the representatives' terms in oIIice or to get other legislation enacted.¨

'We. the people oI the United States. have been Iortunate in the way
oI speaking our minds and expressing ourselves. Voting is our way oI
expressing ourselves to our government.¨
South Carolina
We call them kids---they're America’s future!
Some are bright
'II the House terms were limited. the position would come to be
recognized as a mere stepping stone` to a lucrative iob in the private
sector. A representative could become elected. serve his terms. leave
the oIIice and use his insider's knowledge oI the political process to
wield disproportionate inIluence on the government's decision
making. Obviously. the revolving door` problem would only be

'II the people oI America are wise enough to choose the nation's
oIIicials. aren't they capable oI deciding whether those oIIicials are
IulIilling their duties and doing what voters hired them to do?¨

'Reasons supporting the amendment. however. are much simpler: too
many incumbents stay elected Ior decades at a time; too many
businesses thrive on having a permanent ally in the legislature; too
much pressure oI getting re-elected increases need Ior campaign
Iinancing; and too Iew voters actually know what is going on. Since
the pressure oI campaign money and Iavors Irom wealthy constituents
is obviously prevalent. what will stop every single representative
Irom becoming permanent dupes Ior the rich and inIluential? At least
with a limit on the number oI terms. big business will not have nearly

as Iirm a grasp on the hearts. minds and bank accounts oI
'The House should be divided into sections so that only a part oI the
House would go up Ior reelection at one time. as the Senate does.
This would serve the people better by keeping a maiority oI
representatives in the House all oI the time to minimize conIusion and
disorganization. It would solve the lack oI experience issue too.¨
South Carolina
Some are mistaken
'Like in the communist nations. these representatives are appointed
by a speciIic group oI political oIIicials known as Congress. Isn't that
un-American? Isn't that a Iorm oI communist dictatorship? We the
people don`t have the right to elect our own House oI Representatives
there are too many representatives. Is it really necessary Ior us to have
one hundred and two oI them?¨

'The second reason why United States Representatives should not be
allowed to serve more than one term is that it is unconstitutional.¨

'At this present time. representatives to the House oI Representatives
serve a Iour year term." South Dakota
Some are confused
'Six years would be a signiIicant total oI years Ior a representative to
do some good Ior the registered voters in his state rather than Ior his
constituents.¨ Alabama

And some make us smile
'People who have been in Congress Ior Iorty or IiIty years may still
have the same viewpoints on certain issue. That is a scary thought
when you think that Iorty or IiIty years ago. guys sat on the opposite
end oI the couch as the girl. on a date.¨ South Carolina
'Proponents contend that new Iaces will bring new ideas.. Most oI
these 'new ideas' proposed by these 'new Iaces' are simply the 'old
ideas' oI 'old Iaces'.¨ Florida

'I don't think there should be any oI this liIe term stuII because the
representative becomes like Iood that has been in the reIrigerator too
long. It spoils and is useless to everyone. So let us iust keep the
reIrigerator stocked with Iresh. new ideas and keep our states running
smoothly.¨ Massachusetts
A few are cynical
'Many powerIul businessmen are interested in politics and can buy or
inIluence votes. Once the man or woman is elected that they want to
represent their interests. they can tell him or her how to vote.. It
ends up with the business world controlling the government.¨

'II representatives have been out oI oIIice Ior a while. they tend to
become less concerned with issues and more concerned with iust
making people happy by lying. They also have a tendency to take
bribes.¨ Ohio
But nearly all believe they can make a difference
'Many people are able to contribute small things that Iit together to
Iorm the complete picture oI what America wants. No one can deIine
what is best Ior America by themselves. but by allowing each person
to contribute. the American ideal becomes more tangible.¨

'As an American citizen. you are a very important part oI a
democracy that bases its entire existence upon this principle: The
United State oI America is a democratic republic with representatives
made up oI the people. by the people and Ior the people.¨

'This is only the opinion oI one person. but I know one person can

Participating Schools
(the ones we were able to track down)

1989-1990 Harry Singer Foundation
National Essay Contest

Homewood High School
Birmingham, Alabama

1st Beverly Jordan
2nd Rollin Gentry 3rd Douglas Riegert
Harding High School
Searcy, Arkansas

1st Tim Timitimer
2nd Allan Underwood 3rd Farah Mackey
BMF High School
Los Angeles, California

1st Michael J. Smith
2nd Kristen Patterson 3rd Zachary Maynard

Colonial High School
Orlando, Florida

1st Becky Purdon
2nd Jennifer Bowman 3rd Jennifer Hochell
Baptist Christian High School
Cleveland, Ohio

1st Jeff Veenstra
2nd Pam Noble 3rd Jeff Howard

Clifton Central High School
Clifton, Illinois

1st Andrew J. Cailteux
2nd Brad Weedon 3rd Scott Shell
Colonial Christian High School
Indianapolis, Indiana

1st Beth Hiscock 2nd Joy Thomas
2nd Kristen Baughey 3rd Jon Estes

Maple Valley High School
Mapleton, Iowa

1st Christine Conover
2nd Cyndy Hanson 3rd Lars Vanderbur
Goodland High School
Goodland, Kansas

1st Tara Goodwin
2nd Vicki L. Callahan 3rd Travis Houk

Central High School
Duluth, Minnesota

1st Nick Alexander 2nd Dawn Anderson
3rd Kathleen Mohrman
Mt. Greylock High School
Williamstown, Massachusetts

1st Richard Rouse
2nd Elizabeth Chang 3rd Aaron Gallagher

Parkdale High School
Riverdale, Maryland

1st Barbara Rumberg
2nd Sarah Kim 3rd Marguita L. Posey
Lutheran High School
Minneapolis, Minnesota

1st Carole Schaeffer
2nd Kate Kitzmann 3rd Rachel Bickel
Rapleje High School
Rapleje, Montana

1st Jared Erfle
2nd Joshua Dannenber 3rd Courtney Herzog
Block Yeshiva High School
Saint Louis, Missouri

1st Miriam Davis
2nd Daniel Wolf 3rd Ezekiel Fink
Leonia High School
Leonia, New Jersey

1st Thomas Kwan 2nd Amy Wu
3rd Adam Jaffe
Central Islip High School
Central Islip, New York

1st Yvonne Shontee
2nd Michelle Nolan 3rd Rachel Beauchamp
Cloudland High School
Roan Mountain, Tennessee

1st Kristen Julian
2nd Catherine Pritchard 3rd Scarlett Burleson
Lutheran High School
Cleveland, Ohio

1st Valerie Coeling
2nd Michelle Perrigo 3rd Linda R. Johnson

Broken Arrow High School
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

1st Heath Kerr Hignight
2nd Brad Deavers 3rd Tim Courtney
Hyndman High School
Hyndman, Pennsylvania

1st Cadi Sutherland
2nd Melissa D. Bistline 3rd Toni Santucci
Iowa-Grant High School
Livingston, Wisconsin

1st Jenny Siedenburg 2nd Tracy Coyier
3rd Kent Kramer
Wando High School
Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

1st Alia Peck
2nd Sharon Strauss 3rd Robert Folsom

Huntington High School
Huntington, West Virginia

2nd Jennifer Glick 3rd Alisha Walker
Marion High School
Marion, South Dakota

1st Charlene Dick

2nd Shawn Hofer 3rd Wallace Waltner
Henrico High School
Richmond, Virginia

1st Jo Anna Brown
2nd Jennifer Berberick 3
Sharon Petska
Maplewood High School
Maplewood, Pennsylvania

1st Jamie Copeland
2nd Melanie Preston 3rd Richard L. Burrs
Oologah High School
Oologah, Oklahoma

1st Chad Baker
2nd Holly Clemmons 3rd Wade McPhearson
Columbiana High School
Columbiana, Ohio

1st Melanie Stoffer
2nd Kelly Jo Summers 3rd L. J. Eberle
Pomona High School
Pomona, Kansas

1st Thad Combs
2nd Sarah Lea Peffly 3rd Jenni Cook
Bolsa Grande High School
Garden Grove, California

1st Nikki Nguyen
2nd Scott Brantner 3rd Thao Ta
Remson-Union High School
Remson, Iowa

1st Juliet Haverhals
2nd Bobbi Sanow 3rd Robby Castle
Mestiva Ohr Torah High School
Forest Hills, New York

1st Moshe Greenspan
2nd Alan Lewis 3rd Yorah Brander
Armwood High School
Seffner, Florida

1st Brian Pitzer 2nd Matthew Dudley
3rd Michael Wotherspoon
Pioneer High School
San Jose, California

1st Audra Smith
2nd Steve Oldenbrook 3rd Christine Wilson
Hoosac High School
Hoosac, Massachusetts

1st Darienne Hosley
2nd Kate Mulenski 3rd Andres Ferrero
Kingman High School
Kingman, Kansas

1st Joel Moots
2nd Deanna Schwartz 3rd Steve Gelvin
Parma High School
Parma, Ohio

1st Chris Baioni 2nd Dena M. Shields

3rd Julie Findley 3rd Betsie Hart
Somerset Area High School
Somerset, Pennsylvania

1st Steve Shaffer
2nd Mark Sanders 3rd Matt Van Deusen
Kiowa High School
Kiowa, Oklahoma

1st Kim Newberry
2nd Melanie McMath 3rd Racheal Campbell
Armour High School
Sioux City, Iowa

1st Orin H. Fink
2nd Patrick Harrington 3rd Mark Browning


Required Reading

A Little History

Term limits have a long history. There were elected oIIicials in both
Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome subiect to term limits.

According to Floridian. Robin Fowler. an author and avid student oI
ancient history. in Ancient Greece. particularly Athens. the Boule was
an assembly oI citizens that were selected to run the day to day aIIairs
oI the city-state. The members oI the Boule were not elected; they
were chosen by lot and their terms were limited. No citizen could
serve on the council oI 500. or boule, Ior more than two terms in his
liIetime or Ior two consecutive annual terms. nor be head oI the boule
more than once.

In the Roman Republic. a law was passed imposing a limit oI a single
term on the oIIice oI Censor. As one might suspect Irom the name
one oI the many duties oI a Censor was to count and the number oI
Roman citizens document some Iacts about each one. The census was
taken every Iive years. AIter the constitutional reIorms that took place
in 360 BC. the term oI the Censors was limited to eighteen months
Other oIIicialsthe annual magistrates such as the tribune oI the
plebs. aedile. quaestor. praetor. and consulwere Iorced to wait
number oI years beIore they were permitted to run Ior reelection.
Formal limits in America date back to the Pennsylvania Charter oI
Liberties oI 1682. and the colonial Irame oI government oI the same
year. both authored by William Penn and providing Ior triennial
rotation oI the provincial councilthe upper house oI the colonial
The Iollowing was excerpted Irom the writings oI Robert Struble. Jr.
Iound at Mr. Struble.
Jr. is an educator and author now living in the state oI Washington.
Many oI the Iounders oI the American Republic were educated in
the classics. and quite Iamiliar with rotation in oIIice during
antiquity. The debates oI that day reveal a desire to study and
proIit Irom the obiect lessons oIIered by ancient democracy.
In June 1776. the continental congress appointed a committee oI
thirteen to examine Iorms oI government Ior the impending union
oI the States. Among the proposals was that Irom the State oI
Virginia. written by Thomas JeIIerson. urging a limitation oI
tenure. to prevent every danger which might arise to American
Ireedom by continuing too long in oIIice the members oI the
Continental Congress....` The committee made recommend-
ations. which as regards congressional term-limits were
incorporated unchanged into the Articles oI ConIederation (1781-
1789). The IiIth Article stated that "no person shall be capable oI
being a delegate |to the continental congress| Ior more than three
years in any term oI six years."
The year 1776 saw rotation experiments also at the State level.
Pennsylvania's new constitution (1776-1790) set maximum
service in the state legislature at "Iour years in seven."

Franklin's inIluence is seen not only in that he chaired the
constitutional convention which draIted the Pennsylvania
constitution. but also because it included. virtually unchanged.
Franklin's earlier proposals on executive rotation. Pennsylvania's
plural executive was composed oI twelve citizens elected Ior the
term oI three years. Iollowed by a mandatory vacation oI Iour
In contrast to the Articles oI ConIederation. the Iederal
constitution Convention at Philadelphia omitted mandatory term-
limits Irom the second national Irame oI government. i.e. the U.S.
Constitution oI 1787 to the present. Nonetheless. due largely to
grass roots support Ior the principle oI rotation. rapid turnover in
Congress prevailed by extra-constitutional means. Also George
Washington set the precedent Ior a two-term tradition that
prevailed (with the exception oI FDR's Iour terms) until the 22nd
Amendment oI 1951.
However. when the states ratiIied the Constitution (1787-88).
several leading statesmen regarded the lack oI mandatory limits
to tenure as a dangerous deIect. especially. they thought. as
regards the Presidency and the Senate. Richard Henry Lee viewed
the absence oI legal limits to tenure. together with certain other
Ieatures oI the Constitution. as most highly and dangerously
oligarchic.` Both JeIIerson and George Mason advised limits on
reelection to the Senate and to the Presidency. because said
Mason. "nothing is so essential to the preservation oI a
Republican government as a periodic rotation." The historian
Mercy Otis Warren. warned that there is no provision Ior a
rotation. nor anything to prevent the perpetuity oI oIIice in the
same hands Ior liIe; which by a little well timed bribery. will
probably be done....`
The Iact that perpetuity in oIIice` was not approached until the
20th century is due in part to the inIluence oI rotation in oIIice as
a popular 19th century concept. "Ideas are. in truth. Iorces." and
rotation in oIIice enioyed such normative support. especially at
the local level. that it altered political reality. For a detailed study
oI the 19th century concepts oI rotation let the reader consult
Political Science Quarterly. vol. 94. "House Turnover and the
Principle oI Rotation." by Robert Struble. Jr.
Many other countries have term limits Ior their highest elected
oIIicials but the United States was one oI the Iirst. The 22

Amendment to the United States Constitution limited the highest
elected oIIice to two Iour-year turns in March. 1947. making certain
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the only American President to serve
more than eight years. Governors and state legislators are also subiect
to term limits.
Term limits are also common in democratic republics. There is no
need Ior term limits in the parliamentary system because leaders serve
as long as the have the conIidence oI their legislatures. For example.
England operates under the parliamentary system oI government
whereas Mexico. like the United States is a republic and its president
is limited to one six-year term.

We would like to acknowledge the founder and the many contributors
to Wikipedia where we discovered this information and edited it for
presentation here. To view this and find more information please go
to and search for term
limits or rotation in office.

Real Term Limits: Now More Than Ever

The Iollowing reading consists oI excerpts taken Irom Real Term
Limits: Now More Than Ever, an article by Doug Bandow in Iavor oI
term limits in the Cato Institute Policy Analysis No. 221, March 28,
1995. It can be viewed in its entirety on the Cato Institute`s web site

Doug Bandow is a senior Iellow at the Cato Institute and the author oI
The Politics oI Envy: Statism as Theology. He also served as a special
assistant to President Reagan.

|The main| argument against term limits is that they would enhance
the power oI staIIers and lobbyists. even though congressional aides
already write most laws and lobbyists consistently oppose term-limit
initiatives. A more serious threat to term limits comes Irom those who
advocate a limit oI six terms (12 years) in the House. Most states that
have limited the terms oI their representatives have approved limits oI
three terms (6 years) Ior good reasons. Shorter House limits would
create more competitive elections. They would also reestablish a
citizen legislature.
To eIIectively end politics as a liIetime sinecure. thereby making
congressional service a leave oI absence Irom a productive. private-
sector career. requires that terms be short. A dozen years is a short
career. but it is more than long enough Ior legislators to become more
concerned about their relationships with each other than about their
relationships with constituents.
The nation's Founders strongly believed in rotation in oIIice. They
leIt term limits out oI the Constitution because they did not Ioresee
that politics would become a career Ior so many people. Short term
limits would remedy that mistake. Nothing is more important today
than reversing the pernicious rise oI a proIessional political class.
There has been greater turnover in recent years in Britain's House oI
Lords and the Iormer Soviet Union's Communist Party Central
Committee than in Congress.
|Instituting| real term limits. oI six rather than twelve years. Ior the
U.S. House oI Representatives would end politics as a career.
eliminate today's electoral bias toward advocates oI government
intervention. and recreate the long-lost ideal oI citizen-legislators.
The 1994 congressional election saw the deIeat oI three dozen
Democratic incumbents. the overall reelection rate in the House was
still roughly 90 percent. Last year |1994| incumbents spent Iour times
as much. on average. as their challengers; 1996 is unlikely to be
diIIerent. Incumbents also collected 10 times as much political action
committee (PAC) money as their challengers.
Incumbents will continue to possess large. taxpayer-paid personal
staIIs--a de Iacto reelection apparatus.
Careerists remain dominant among elected oIIicials. and enthusiasts
oI government still dominate policymaking. Incumbents continue to
win most elections. and casework still usually trumps issues in
campaigns. Representative government still reIlects the interests. not
oI the public. but oI a distinct. career-minded ruling class: legislators.
bureaucrats. media elites. and like-minded interest groups. The cure is
short term limits.
Arguments against Term Limits
Senator Orin Hatch complains that term limits demonstrate a
Iundamental lack oI Iaith in the common sense and good iudgment oI
the voters.` even though it is the voters who are approving them
What is wrong with citizens' reIorming the electoral system to
discourage creation oI a permanent political class? What is more
democratic than people choosing. by an average two-thirds maiority
vote. to reshape their government's legislative branches?
People are willing to relinquish the right to reelect their members oI
Congress an extra time.
Term limits actually increase voter choice by making elections more
competitive and encouraging more candidates to run.
One study estimates that CaliIornia's term limits on state legislators
caused a rush oI retirements. which led to 50 percent more candidates
than would otherwise have been expected.
Cities that have implemented term limits have discovered the same
phenomenon: more. and more diverse. candidates are running Ior
Another contention is that term limits would enhance the power oI
staIIers and lobbyists. However. congressional aides already write
most laws. The problem is not with legislative assistants on Capitol
Hill: congressional staIIers' average tenure in any particular position
today ranges between 6 and 18 months; in Iact. lobbyists have
remarked that overall staII turnover is greater than legislative
Real inIluence lies with aides. whose tenure tends to be Iairly long
because they work either Ior or under the protection oI the most
senior members. Greater legislative turnover. term limits would help
to reduce the permanence oI both personal and committee staIIs.
II term limits help lobbyists. why do they uniIormly oppose term
The National Education Association. labor unions. the National RiIle
Association. public employees. proIessional groups. trial lawyers.
medical associations. law Iirms. lobbyists. public relations companies.
and many maior corporations all oppose term limits precisely because
they know they would be the maior losers
A representative oI the CaliIornia Trial Lawyers was similar:
Obviously. it's a great advantage to have someone who is a champion
oI your cause as Speaker oI the Assembly.`
What interest groups Iear most is a continuing inIlux oI Ireshmen.
who neither know nor care to learn the rigged rules oI the game. and
the constant leadership turnover that will result.
Another concern is lost legislative expertise. Norman Ornstein oI the
American Enterprise Institute goes so Iar as to charge that with term
limits "only bums will run. only bums will rule But most oI our
current problems come Irom knowledgeable pols kowtowing to well-
heeled interest groups.
Early American congressman John Taylor observed. More talent is
lost by long continuance in oIIice` than by rotation because ability is
stimulated by the prospect oI Iuture employment and smothered by
the monopoly oI experience.`
Skill in running and winning does not translate into skill in ruling.
Consider the disasters inIlicted upon us by experienced incumbents:
the savings-and-loan crisis. Ior instance. was created by the most
knowledgeable members oI the banking committees. Older members
are no more courageous than younger ones in addressing such
problems as runaway deIicits; the actuarially unbalanced Social
Security system; and a halI regulated. halI Iree medical system.
Adequate Turnover?
Opponents oI term limits also argue that there is plenty oI turnover
already. But. except Ior 1994. in recent years turnover has occurred
largely as a result oI people's retiring aIter long careers in politics or
to seek diIIerent political oIIices. It is good that incumbents
occasionally leave. else congressional membership would be almost
permanent. Yet competitive elections. lots oI them. are necessary Ior
representative democracy.
As political scientist Mark Petracca observes. Electoral competition
is no longer possible in a system where the beneIits and power oI
incumbency virtually guarantee a liIelong career as a legislator.`
The greatest diIIerence between congressional elections in the early
Republic and today is not reelection rates--members who stood Ior
reelection usually won then. as now. What is diIIerent is the Iact that
so many voluntarily retired. not iust because they Iaced a tough
reelection campaign. Indeed. the percentage oI voluntary retirements
Iell below 25 percent only twice beIore 1880. The percentage did not
Iall below 20 percent until 1896. During the Progressive Era. in 1908.
voluntary retirements Iirst dropped to the single digits. where they
have remained almost continuously since 1924 (and throughout the
entire 1980s). For early members oI Congress. politics was not a
career. as it is today.
CaliIornia. Assembly Speaker Willie Brown whined. I still can't
believe it happened here. Participating in the electoral process is no
longer a career option. It is simply a temporary way station.` The
complaint oI Ohio GOP state senator Gary Suhadolnik was similar:
For the Iirst time in my liIe. I'm in a dead-end iob.`
Elected oIIicials are entitled to serve Ior as many years as voters
believe to be wise. not as many as will make them equal to members
oI a diIIerent chamber with a somewhat diIIerent role.
Preoccupation with learning curves illustrates a basic Ilaw in today's
careerist Congress. As Petracca observes. Representatives cannot
become experts and constituents cannot be treated as clients. Yet
those are precisely the new roles in which representative and
represented are cast by the proIessionalization oI legislative politics in
America.` What America needs most are representatives who Iocus
on direction. not detail. Most oI the problems Iacing America require
not technical Iixes by proIessional policy nerds who spent the
previous decade studying the minutiae oI. say. banking rules but the
dramatic clearing away oI regulations by people who see the big
picture that shows that government economic manipulation not only
does not work but is actually harmIul.
The three-term limit Ior representatives is superior Ior three basic
reasons. The Iirst is Iederalism. Voters have made it clear beyond a
doubt that they want shorter limits. Fully 15 oI 22 state-imposed
limits are Ior three terms. and 4 more are Ior Iour terms. Newt
Gingrich's pollster. Frank Luntz. Iound that people preIer three terms
to six terms by a margin oI 82 percent to 14 percent. Indeed. so
radical is the public that a 1992 poll Iound that Iully one-third oI
respondents wanted iust two terms. more than Iour times the number
backing six terms.
Second. three-term House limits would create dramatically more
competitive elections. In such a system. initial reelection would
probably remain relatively tough. as it is today. and the Iinal election
might be more diIIicult than expected as challengers ran in an attempt
to position themselves Ior the next election. when the seat would be
guaranteed to be empty. A six-term limit. in contrast. would give
incumbents relatively easy rides in elections three. Iour. and Iive. In
sum. shorter limits promote competition to some degree in every
election; longer limits leave halI oI the elections relatively easy. iI
past experience is any guide.
The third. and most important. reason Ior three-term limits is that they
would reestablish a citizen legislature rather than a proIessional one.
Voters intuitively understand the issue. which is why they
overwhelmingly support shorter limits. Today politics is dominated
by the people who most enioy running other people's lives and who
are most accomplished at getting elected. Many know little about the
actual impact oI the grand theories they enact into law. As Edward
Crane. Iounder and president oI the Cato Institute puts it. Those who
run Ior Congress these days are generally those who Iind the prospect
oI spending a signiIicant portion oI their lives as a politician to be an
attractive option. These are generally the kind oI individuals we
should not have passing laws governing the rest oI us.`
Thus. we need to elect people who are subiect to the same rules as the
rest oI us. Although in January Congress rightly voted to apply a host
oI laws to itselI as well as to the rest oI America. it is still not the
same. since businesspeople who break the law are personally liable.
while congressional violators can send the bill to the taxpayers.
Members oI Congress who knew they would have to go back to a real
iob in a Iew years. in contrast. might be more cautious. As George
Will. the Pulitzer Prize winner iournalist. has written. Term limits
would increase the likelihood that people who come to Congress
would anticipate returning to careers in the private sector and
thereIore would. as they legislate. think about what it is like to live
under the laws they make.`
But it is not enough to require members oI Congress to go back into
the community. We need to ensure that they spring Irom it to start
with. Consider Iormer senator George McGovern's plaintive
admission aIter trying to run a motel: I wish that someone had told
me about the problems oI running a business. I would have to pay
taxes. meet a payroll--I wish I had had a better sense oI what it took
to do that when I was in Washington.`
We need to elect people who have a sense oI what it took to do that.`
people who are genuinely part oI the community that they represent.
Federalists and anti-Iederalists alike agreed that there should be
authentic experiential. value. and interest connections between the
representative and the represented.`
Today. however. legislators more likely represent government than
society and reIlect a governing ethos prevalent in Washington and
state capitals alike. That is more than a procedural point. Observes
Alan Ehrenhalt. editor oI Governing magazine.
Politics is. then. more than in the past. a iob Ior people who preIer it
to any other line oI work. About these people one more important
point should be made: They tend not only to enioy politics but to
believe in government as an institution. The more somebody is
required to sacriIice time and money and private liIe to run Ior the
city council. Ior the state legislature. or Ior Congress. the more
important it is Ior that person to believe that government is a
respectable enterprise with crucial work to do.
There are people who Ieel otherwise and nevertheless run Ior oIIice.
but they are both Iewer in numbers and less eIIective. Overall. we
now see a new breed` oI proIessional legislator`¨ who wants to stay
in public oIIice Ior the long haul.` reports political analyst Alan
Rosenthal. Part oI the reason Ior that is larger staIIs and greater
prestige; another part is better remuneration. In the case oI Minnesota.
Rosenthal explains. proIessionalism has had a dramatic impact.
Lawyers. independent business owners. and Iarmers have leIt. Their
places have been taken by young people. many oI whom see the
legislature as an entry level position Ior a career in politics.` Thus. the
very rise oI proIessionalism in politics has changed who runs Ior
oIIice. how those elected vote. and what government does. Only by
ending politics as a career can we eliminate that systematic bias in
today's system.
One way to do that would be to try to deproIessionalize legislatures.
We could. Ior instance. end lavish pensions. which. argues Iormer
representative Tim Penny (D- Minn.). have had a particularly
important impact on promoting careerism in the U.S. House. Turning
Congress into an amateur institution in other ways will not be as
simple. especially since legislators must currently deal with the many
large. complex bureaucracies constructed in recent decades.

Term Limits Still Required
Thus. term limits. short term limits. remain necessary. To eIIectively
end politics as a liIetime sinecure--thereby making congressional
service a leave oI absence Irom a productive. private-sector career--
requires that term limits be short--three terms rather than six Ior
House members. A dozen years alone is a short career. but when
those years are combined with another dozen in the Senate. as well as
election to other public oIIices. politics remains a career path Ior
those who are temperamentally inclined to glad-hand and regulate
their Iellow citizens.
As Edward Crane puts it. For the House oI Representatives. 12 years
is more than double 6 years with regard to reelection incentives. That
is. the 6- year limit provides Ior iust two reelection campaigns. and
the 12-year limit oIIers Iive such opportunities.` Three-term limits
help make all elections more competitive.
Shorter term limits are also important in making inIluence available
on some basis other than senility (usually known as seniority). Over
the last Iour decades the average tenure Ior members oI the House
leadership. Irom Speaker through committee chairmen. has exceeded
20 years.
The Iocus on seniority.|has discouraged both non-careerists Irom
running and voters Irom electing non-careerists. There is no incentive
to replace the older members oI congress with younger more
representative candidates.|
Longer terms mean less turnover and more elections dominated by
incumbents with all oI the usual advantages oI incumbency.
Today. largely because oI voluntary turnover. the average length oI
congressional service is 13.4 years
We Iind that a 3-term limit would radically restructure Congress. It is
estimated that a 3-term limit would decrease average stays in
Congress Irom 13.2 years to 3.8 years; increase average turnover
Irom 17 percent oI Congress to 37 percent oI Congress; reduce the
expected waiting time to achieve a position oI leadership Irom 16.4
years to 4 years or less and cut the median years oI seniority among
the House membership Irom 9 to 3 years. One has to go back to the
nineteenth century to Iind Congresses that represent what could be
expected under a 3-term limit.)
Average turnover during the Republic's Iirst century was 43 percent;
more than a third oI members simply retired oI their own accord. to
resume previous proIessions or develop new ones. Not until 1900 did
electoral turnover Iall below 30 percent. And total turnover was
occasionally staggering: 76 percent in 1842. 63.8 percent in 1852.
63.7 percent in 1816. 62 percent in 1854. and 61.5 percent in 1862.
Back then elections were heavily policy driven--disgusted voters
would transIorm Congress in one election iI angry over Federalist
opposition to the War oI 1812. passage oI the Fugitive Slave Act. the
compromise over slavery in the Kansas territories. the Republican
party's prosecution the Civil War. or any number oI other serious
issues. Even in the second halI oI the 19th century turnover averaged
50.2 percent. Indeed. it was 1900 beIore the average number oI terms
served by House members exceeded two.
To the Washington elite. used to government as usual. such turnover
today would seem chaotic. How would lobbyists keep tabs on
everyone they need to know? How would iournalists maintain sources
Ior leaks? How would bureaucrats solidiIy their ties with committee
leaders and staIIers in order to protect their programs? They would
not. which would be a good thing.
Lobbyists love order because it's predictable; they can manipulate it
any way they want. The press likes order because they're lazy; they
don't want to work too hard. Politicians like order because they
known how they can survive easily.
Seniority affects spending
James Payne. author oI The Culture oI Spending. ICS Press 1991.
says. 'When congressmen Iirst enter Congress. they are less in Iavor
oI spending than their colleagues. but they grow more in Iavor oI
spending as their service in Congress lengthens.` The eIIect is huge.
According to the National Taxpayers Union. year in and year out.
senior members oI Congress. on average. vote to spend more than
iunior legislators.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute has concluded that senior
representatives are more likely to vote Ior pork and support
government economic intervention.
One reason Ior that phenomenon may be the tendency to identiIy with
one's work and career over time; it is probably easier to hate Congress
while one is a businessperson attempting to satisIy an abusive
inspector Irom the Occupational SaIety and Health Administration
than while one is a multiterm incumbent chairing a subcommittee
overseeing OSHA and meeting with regulatory advocates all day.
Payne warns that Congress is overwhelmed by the advocates oI
government programs: the administrators whose status. morale. and
sense oI accomplishment depend on the appropriations they urge;
state and local oIIicials who appeal Ior Iederal spending with the
same motives; lobbyists who press the demands oI the beneIiciaries
oI Iederal programs; spokesmen Ior business Iirms that beneIit Irom
Iederal largesse.` Advocates oI taxpayers and the larger public are. in
contrast. generally absent.
The miasma oI regulation. not likely to be cleared away any time
soon. enhances the role oI members oI Congress as ombudsmen who
help citizens navigate the very unresponsive bureaucracy that
incumbent legislators have created.
Morris P. Fiorina is a senior Iellow at the Hoover Institution and the
Wendt Family ProIessor oI Political Science at StanIord University.
He has authored several books. He claims incumbents.deemphasize
controversial policy positions and instead place heavy emphasis on
nonpartisan. non-programmatic constituency service (Ior which
demand grows as government expands).`
Another problem is what Payne reIers to simply as conversion.` That
is. the Washington culture conditions even the most rabid critic oI
government. Warns Payne. AIter years and years oI being exposed to
pro-spending stimuli. the congressman internalizes such an intense
commitment to government action that he becomes its leading
advocate.` Part oI it is hearing Irom 96 proponents oI spending Ior
every 1 opponent. Part oI it is the existence oI a large. taxpayer-
Iunded apparatus designed to validate and promote government
Transforming the Political Culture
The goal. then. oI three-term limits is to change the sort oI people
serving in government and thus transIorm the larger political culture.
Through the 1950s service in Congress as well as most state
legislatures was essentially part-time. That changed with the "go-go"
government years oI the Great Society. The increasing role oI
political careerists went hand in hand with institutional changes that
steadily turned serving in Congress and most state legislatures into
Iulltime work. As the role oI proIessional pols increased. they set a
minimum standard that citizen-legislators could not easily meet. In
eIIect. we saw the political equivalent oI Gresham's law--bad
legislators drive out good ones. As Aaron Ehrenhalt. editor oI
governing magazine puts it. Full-time iobs in Congress and in
legislatures attract people who want to devote most oI their waking
hours to politics. There is no reason to suppose that this is the same
set oI people who would want to do politics in their spare time.` The
purpose oI shorter term limits. then. is to provide an opportunity Ior
the latter people to run Ior oIIice. to attract as candidates people
willing to set aside their proIessional lives Ior a season. rather than
people hoping to make politics their proIessional lives.
Even in today's proIessional political environment we see an
occasional citizen-legislator. But until 1994 the primary examples
were retirees--Jim Olin. a Iormer vice president oI General Electric.
ended his 35-year corporate career in 1982 and ran Ior Congress. Olin
had both a private and a public liIe. one aIter the other. Using term
limits to create a place Ior lots oI citizen-legislators will bring Iorth a
lot more Jim Olins. but at the 5-. 10-. and 20-year points in their
business careers..
The nation's Founders. along with Iamed Roman statesmen and
British classical liberals. strongly believed in rotation in oIIice.
UnIortunately Ior Americans today. the Framers leIt limits on terms
out oI the Constitution. But then. they did not think limits would be
necessary. Ior they did not Ioresee that politics would become a
career Ior so many people--a halI million oIIiceholders at all levels oI
government today. Alas. iust as the government oI two centuries ago
has metastasized into something Iar. Iar worse than the oppressive
rule that pushed the colonists into rebellion. the arrogance oI the
ruling political class has reached a level that would have done
Britain's royalty proud. Americans must inaugurate a second
Today politics is the liIe oI Iar too many oIIice- holders. And that has
made them hard to deIeat at the polls and perverted the policies that
they support. It is time to require legislators to rediscover their lives
and make politics turn on policy. not ambition.Nothing is more
important today than to reverse the pernicious rise oI a proIessional
political class.
Arguments Pro and Con Term Limits

In favor of limits
Term limits prevents incumbents from using the benefits
of office to remain in power indefinitely.

In some situations. merely being in oIIice provides an
elected oIIicial with a distinct advantage in Iurther
elections. Supporters oI term limits argue that this
advantage is undemocratic. and means that incumbents no
longer Iear losing their oIIices and cease to be concerned
with the needs oI their constituents. Term limits ensure that
all oIIicials are eventually removed Irom power.

In the United States, limiting Congressmen to a single
term would be a more effective remedy for plutocracy
than Campaign finance reform.

Term limits would eliminate the incumbent's need Ior a
campaign war chest. and thus deprive corporate lobbyists oI
much iI not all oI their leverage over sitting U.S.

Term limits make room for fresh candidates, and
encourages participation.

Imposing term limits on an oIIice ensures that there will
always be vacancies Ior new candidates to pursue. This may
encourage citizens who would normally not consider
running Ior oIIice to do so. as they will not be challenging
an established. entrenched opponent. Many proponents
claim that term limits will increase diversity in a legislature.
bringing the law-making body's demographics more in line
with those oI the general population.

Term limits stop politicians from making choices solely
to prolong their career.

II a politician can serve as many terms as they wish. they
may be tempted to Iollow policies which will ensure their
long-term political survival. rather than policies which
Iurther the interests oI voters. Supporters oI term limits
sometimes argue that iI politicians know Irom the beginning
oI their service that their time in oIIice is limited. they will
act diIIerently (and less selI-servingly) than 'career¨

Term limits reduce the advantage which can be gained
by a representative's seniority.

In some legislatures. power and inIluence tend to increase
as a legislator gains seniority a politician who has served
many terms will carry more responsibility than one who has
iust been elected. even iI both are representing the same
number oI voters. II one district continually re-elects the
same politician. while another district Irequently changes its
politician. the Iirst district will have greater sway in the
legislature than the second. because its representative has
had time to accrue seniority. Term limits ensure that each
district has representatives oI similar seniority.
Against limits
It is undemocratic.

The most common argument against the use oI term limits is
that it takes away the right oI voters to be represented by the
politician oI their choice. It is argued that iI the public wish
to re-elect their representative. it is undemocratic to prevent
them Irom doing so. Allow the electorate to do its iob.
argue opponents. and non-responsive legislators can still be
held accountable. Finally. it can deny the voters the right to
vote someone out oI oIIice; this is especially true in oIIices
where re-election is not allowed.

The result of term limits is a lack of experienced

Term limit opponents argue that. with experience. comes
greater skill. The very use oI the term 'Ireshman
representative¨ is indicative oI the Iact that the Iirst-term
legislator is less likely to be able to 'get things done¨ in the
legislature. and in Iact might make a lot oI "Ireshman
mistakes" due to his/her inexperience. It is Iurther argued
that inexperienced politicians will be more reliant on advice
and guidance Irom un-elected oIIicials and lobbyists.
Permanent committee staIIers. who ostensibly work Ior the
representatives. would become more knowledgeable and
powerIul than the members themselves. Moreover.
lobbyists in the employ oI special interests might tend to
grow more powerIul. as they can oIIer to 'help¨
inexperienced members gain a Ioothold. Because both
staIIers and lobbyists are unelected. opponents argue. term
limits are undemocratic as it places more power in the
hands oI the unelected. The Michigan budgetary crisis oI
2007 is a textbook example oI strict term limits hampering
the productivity oI the Michigan Legislature.

Term limits mean that politicians approaching their
term limit no longer have to worry about what voters

Another argument against term limits is that it is the very
Iact that politicians need to go back to the voters Ior
approval and reelection that keeps them responsive. With
term limits. a lame duck legislator no longer has any
motivation to continue heeding the concerns oI his
constituents. In such a circumstance. a legislator could use
their last term to set themselves up Ior a iob in the private
sector aIter the end oI their legislative career.

Term limits simply result in frequent trading of office
between the same people, not an influx of new people.

In contrast to the claims that term limits allow new Iaces to
enter politics. opponents claim that there are enough
political oIIices Ior elected oIIicials to simply play musical
chairs.` In response to claims that term limits promote
diversity. on August 15. 2006 the United States' National
ConIerence oI State Legislatures issued a report at its
annual meeting stating that term limits have not led to
signiIicant increases in Iemale or minority representation in
state legislatures. according to a survey oI the 15 states with
term limits.`
The distinction must be noted between the absolute limit on the
number oI terms a person can serve. and the number oI consecutive
terms a person can serve.
We acknowledge and thank the anonymous contributors to the above
material which can be found in its full unedited form at:
U. S. Term Limits
990 Main Street Ste. 303
FairIax. VA 22031
703-383-0807- phone703-383-5288-Iax

“Voters are angrier than ever about the governments
that misrepresent them.¨
Philip Blumel
October 21
. 2008. FairIax. VAU.S. Term Limits President Philip
Blumel today praised the results oI a recent Pulse Opinion Research
poll that Iound that 83 percent oI likely voters believe that elected
oIIicials should have their terms oI oIIice limited.

'National support Ior term limits is at an all-time high.¨ said
Blumel. 'And it`s no wonder. Public conIidence in government is at
an all-time low. and that directly correlates with increased support Ior
term limits. The longer a politician stays in oIIice. the less conIidence
he or she engenders Irom constituents.¨

The Pulse Opinion Research poll was conducted nationally on
October 8
amongst 1.000 likely voters with a margin oI error oI ¹/-
3 percent.
'The people believe that the reason government does not work is
because oI career politicians who maintain their clutches on power by
catering to special interests.¨ Blumel added. 'They are right. The
public system oI corruption. earmarks. kickbacks. and Iavors reeks.
and we`re all Ied up with it.¨

'Voters are angrier than ever about the governments that misrepresent
them.¨ said Blumel.

Blumel believes that the latest $850 billion Iinancial bailout bill
passed by Congress also played a role in increasing support Ior term
limits. 'The American people overwhelmingly lobbied against
passage oI the big bailout bill because they played by the rules and
paid their bills.¨

'Instead they watched as over $150 billion was added to the original
$700 billion Iigure iust to get it passed.¨ said Blumel. 'Everyone
knew the Iix was in.¨

Blumel contends that through term limits the nation will be able to
return to its roots. 'America was Iounded upon the ideal oI citizen
legislatorsordinary people serving their cities. counties. states. and
country. However. because oI the incumbency advantage elected
oIIicials have still at about 95 percent. instead oI citizen legislators
we practically have a landed aristocracy.¨

'This is not how the Iounders envisioned representative democracy.¨
said Blumel. 'And it`s not how the American people wish to be
represented. hence the overwhelming support Ior term limits Ior all
elected oIIicials.¨

Blumel Ioresees that term limits will become an increasingly
prominent issue over the coming years. 'I predict that the public will
demand Congressional term limits be enacted. whether by
constitutional amendment or via legislation. And U.S. Term Limits
will be by their side. Iighting in the trenches against the elite career
politicians who stand in the way.¨

The above may be found at

Questions and Answers
Relevant To the Required Reading

Excerpts from Doug Bandow’s article
Q1- What is meant by 'casework¨ as it was used on page 56?

Q-2 What is your opinion oI the Iollowing quotation attributed to
John Taylor? 'More talent is lost by long continuance in oIIice¨ than
by rotation because ability is 'stimulated by the prospect oI Iuture
employment and smothered by the monopoly oI experience.¨?
Quotation can be found on page 58.
Q-3 Do you think a goal encouraging citizen legislators rather than
career politicians is a worthy goal? Why or why not? Please explain.
Q4- In a paragraph or two. please discuss one oI the two quotations
below attributed to political scientist Mark Petracca.

Representatives cannot become experts and constituents cannot be
treated as clients. Yet those are precisely the new roles in which
representative and represented are cast by the proIessionalization oI
legislative politics in America.` See page 59.

Electoral competition is no longer possible in a system where the
beneIits and power oI incumbency virtually guarantee a liIelong
career as a legislator.` See page 58.
Q5- What are the three basic reasons Doug Bandow gives Ior the
superiority oI a 3-term limit? Which one would you personally rank
as #1? Please explain the reason Ior your choice. See pages 45-46.

Q6- What are two reasons given by Alan Rosenthal that make
politicians want to stay in oIIice? See page 60-Required Reading

Arguments Pro and Con Term Limits

Q7- Describe two ways term limits would lessen the advantage oI
incumbency in an election.

Q8- List three advantages oI term limits and state your preIerence
and explain why you chose as you did?

Q9- Make three arguments against term limits.

Q10- Do you agree that term limits encourage policy decisions that
are more in the public interest and less selI-serving than without term

Q11- Would you say term limits spread the power that without them
would be the prerogative oI senior politicians?

Answers to Q7-Q11 can be found at pages 67-70

Blumel October 21, 2008

Q22- U.S. Term Limits President. Philip Blumel. stated that the
results oI a Pulse Opinion Research poll showed Iound what percent
oI likely voters believe that elected oIIicials should have their terms
oI oIIice limited?
25° ͗ 42°͗ 55°͗ 83° ͗ 93°͗

Blumel reIers to challengers as and compares

incumbents to .

Answers to Q22 can be found on pages 71-73.


Among my notes I found some ethical questions that perhaps all
elected officials should ask themselves. Unfortunately, I can only
identify the author with the initials KJB to give him/her credit. I
made my own modifications and listed them below:
Q- Do I owe my campaign contributors anything?
Q- Is it okay to form friendships with lobbyists?
Q- Should I always keep my word to one of my fellow legislators,
even if I change my mind on a bill?
Q- How much information should I give the press?
Q- Should I always answer the press honestly?
Q- What should I do when my own values conflict with those of
my constituents?
Q- What should I do when I let some issues go by me during a
debate and recognize them some time later?
Q- How can I reconsider an issue without being labeled “wishy-
Pulse Opinion Research

National Survey of
One Thousand Likely Voters

October 8. 2008

Do you believe elected oIIicials should have their terms oI
oIIice limited or do you think they should be allowed to hold
oIIice as long as they like?

83° ÷ they should have their terms oI oIIice limited

12° ÷ should be allowed to hold oIIice as long as they like

5° ÷ not sure

NOTE: Margin of sampling error, +/- 3 percentage points with
a 95% level of confidence
The Term Limited States
Updated February. 2006

This list represents the 15 states that currently have term limits Ior
legislators. They are ordered by the year oI term limits' impact--the
Iirst year in which incumbents who were serving when the term limits
measure was passed are no longer eligible to run Ior re-election.

House Senate
Year of
Year of
MAINE 1993 8 1996 8 1996 67.6
CALIFORNIA 1990 6 1996 8 1998 52.2
COLORADO 1990 8 1998 8 1998 71
ARKANSAS 1992 6 1998 8 2000 59.9
MICHIGAN 1992 6 1998 8 2002 58.8
FLORIDA 1992 8 2000 8 2000 76.8
OHIO 1992 8 2000 8 2000 68.4
1992 8 2000 8 2000 63.5
MONTANA 1992 8 2000 8 2000 67
ARIZONA 1992 8 2000 8 2000 74.2
* MISSOURI 1992 8 2002 8 2002 75
OKLAHOMA 1990 12 2004 12 2004 67.3
NEBRASKA 2000 n/a n/a 8 2006 56
LOUISIANA 1995 12 2007 12 2007 76
**NEVADA 1996 12 2010 12 2010 70.4
* Because oI special elections. term limits were eIIective in 2000 Ior
eight current members oI the House and one Senator in 1998.
**The Nevada Legislative Council and Attorney General have ruled
that Nevada's term limits cannot be applied to those legislators elected
in the same year term limits were passed (1996). They Iirst apply to
persons elected in 1998.

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures
Consecutive vs. Lifetime Limits
Term limits may be divided into two broad categories: consecutive
and liIetime. With consecutive term limits. a legislator is limited to
serving a particular number oI years in a chamber. Upon hitting the
limit in one chamber. a legislator may run Ior election to the other
chamber or leave the legislature. AIter a set period oI time (usually
two years). the clock resets on the limit. and the legislator may run Ior
election to his/her original seat and serve up to the limit again.

For More Information on Term Limits
Jennie Drage Bowser tracks term limits. and may be reached at
303-364-7700 or elections-inIo(

© 2008 National ConIerence oI State Legislatures. All Rights Reserved

More About the Harry Singer Foundation

The Harry Singer Foundation is a national non-proIit 501(c) 3 private
operating Ioundation (IRC: 4942 i 3) located in Carmel. CaliIornia
whose purpose is to promote responsibility and involve people more
Iully in public policy and their communities. It was Iounded in 1987.
It actively conducts programs. and is not a grant-making Ioundation.
The Foundation invites participants oI all ages and countries to
participate in its programs but has been concentrating on young
people because they are open and eager to learn. are not saddled with
a myriad oI other social responsibilities. (like raising a Iamily and
making their own living). and they will be around the longest and
thereIore have the best opportunity to make their proiects work. They
are ideal experimenters because time is on their side.
Participation on our programs is through the Internet. We have been
operating our programs on the Internet since the Iall oI 1994ancient
history in light oI the Internet's growth since those early days. You
may read this inIormation and view our programs at .
We bring people together to network at our headquarters in Carmel.
CaliIornia. When participants come up with ideas. HSF provides the
opportunity to put to the test. those ideas that garner the most
enthusiastic response. We do this via Pilot Proiects and interacting
with grant-making entities and Iar-sighted businesses. Most
businesses rightly have more than altruistic motives. They are
concerned about maintaining a stable and growth-oriented economy
as well as Iinding responsible Iuture employees. Our proiects
inadvertently Ioster these aims as well as philanthropic goals.
Although HSF is an educational Ioundation it realizes it is not enough
to think. write and talk about problems. HSF shows what ordinary
people are capable oI achieving. The obiective is to Iind out what
works within a desired Iramework. We know a pilot proiect has been
successIully launched when it attracts enthusiastic volunteers that we
call Champions. Those Iamiliar with the Suzuki method oI teaching
music will understand when we analogize to the child begging the
mother to turn over the child-sized violin she is playing. Champions
are those whose enthusiasm leads them to volunteer to take over a
pilot proiect that strikes their Iancy. In the process they release their
own unique pent up creativity while the Foundation continues to
support them in their eIIorts to expand the proiect. Steve Platt. the
Champion oI Singer Kids4Kids is one example.
We also oIIer materials online. Iree oI charge. which can be printed
and used in the classroom or Ior individual education or research. The
Workbook section oI the HSF web site Ieatures data to encourage
logical thinking and attention to the unintended consequences that
oIten accompany government or personal solutions to perceived
HSF believes that society has encouraged technology and
management while neglecting principles. We need to consider not
only can we do. but should we do. To that end you will Iind an
introduction to the seldom taught subiect oI logic in this section along
with Irequently updated ethical dilemmas.
The Harry Singer Foundation mission is to prepare participants Ior a
Iuture where there may be less government and a weaker saIety net.
Such a Iuture would require greater individual character.
responsibility and knowledge. There may be a need Ior responsible
people able to care Ior themselves and their less Iortunate neighbors.
BeIore one can either reIlect or help others. one must survive. HSF
has archived the thoughts oI teens over a twenty year period in the
Teens Speak Out and the Archived by State Iorums as well as in the
published books that resulted Irom 41 oI the 46 essay contests it
conducted between 1988 and 2007. Although many oI these teen
authors now are adults with children oI their own. their reIlections are
relevant to today's youth who must learn to make successIul personal
and social choices regarding their own ideology and their careers.
They too must withstand the peer pressure oI gangs. violence.
irresponsible sex and addictive substances. People change but the
social issues remain.
We invite you to explore our web site at We look Iorward to your comments
and participation and will be happy to provide additional
inIormation or respond to any questions you might have.
The Harry Singer Foundation Board oI Directors has promoted
programs that provide inIormation and teach people how to
think. but not what to think. until they have looked at more than
one side oI any question. AIter research and analysis. program
participants are expected to Iorm their own opinions.
Advisory Board members are championing programs that oIten
take participants into their communities to interact outside an
academic setting. We invite you to browse our pilot proiects and
hope that you may be moved to Champion one oI these proiects
in your own community. Together we believe we can make the
United States. and the world. a stronger and better place to live.
Ior this generation and generations to come.

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