Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Term limits would create more effective Congress

In the United States, the President is limited to serving two terms in office. This is because of the Twenty-Second Amendment, which was ratified in February 1951. Only Franklin D. Roosevelt served more than two terms and unless another Amendment is passed by Congress and ratified, he will be the only president to do so.
Politicians elected to Congress, Senators and Representatives, are not covered by the Twenty-Second Amendment. They can serve for as long as they wish, assuming they continue to be elected every six years or two years, respectively. Robert Byrd, for example, served in the Senate for more than 51 years. John Dingell served in the House of Representatives for more than 55 years.
Term limits for Congress have various pros and cons to be considered. Seniority creates the ability to facilitate change in Washington D.C., but it also creates gridlock because congressional representatives also wish to continue being re-elected. By establishing term limits, some of that gridlock could be replaced without necessarily removing the benefits of seniority. It would bring new ideas to the table if term limits were in place.
When the same people keep getting elected to Congress time and time again, the same debates happen over and over again. Low turnover rates in Congress create a foundation of stale ideas. New perspectives can provide different types of influence and that can inspire changes that may benefit the whole of society.
Senators and Representatives would be able to bring more to each discussion because they are less likely to be isolated from their districts because of the responsibilities in Washington. It may encourage people to vote. Many people vote in every election, but a majority of people in a district not voting is becoming an all-too-common occurrence. If people know that their Senator or Representative is likely to be re-elected, they feel like there isn’t a need to get involved in the political process. By establishing term limits, more people could come out to vote because there would be more opportunities for change. Voters would know that even if their preferred candidate loses, term limits set a specific deadline that cannot be changed. It allows for newly elected officials to have influence.
The system of seniority in Congress does have some benefits for leadership, but it also comes with a large disadvantage. Newly elected officials rarely receive powerful posts on committees or can influence procedures. That responsibility goes to those who have more seniority and power. As a result, new Senators and Representatives may spend more of their time trying to get a foot in the door than the time they spend actually crafting helpful legislation. Term limits would make it possible for more elected officials to influence the direction of the country.
Kyle Mitchell
Middlebury
 

Share this story:

More News
Op/Ed

Guest editorial: Legislature’s nonsensical education reform plans should be dropped

The impending 17 percent increase in property taxes has our elected leaders on the politic … (read more)

Op/Ed

Ways of Seeing: Let’s connect the dots for peace

It has now been more than six months since the Hamas attack of October 7, and about six mo … (read more)

Op/Ed

Jessie Raymond: Aspiring house hen expands her range

I knew our hen Monique was different from other birds. But if you had told me when we got … (read more)

Share this story: