Mar 292010
 
Authors: Robyn Scherer, Seth Anthony

Congress should have term limits

By Robyn Scherer

It has become very clear that Congress needs an overhaul. Representatives no longer represent their constituents.

Currently, members of Congress have no limits on the number of terms they can serve, and this clearly has been detrimental to the country.

Senate and House members spend at least the last year (if not longer) of their term trying to get reelected, instead of representing the people from their state. They take money from special interest groups in favor of a vote one way or another, instead of voting how their constituents want.

If we require the president to have a term limit, why shouldn’t members of Congress? The whole point of the term limit is to keep one person from being in power for too long, and that should apply to members of the House and Senate as well.

There are members of Congress who have been there for decades, and without new people, how will there be new ideas?

I propose that Congress institute a two-term limit, exactly how the presidency is. That way, elected officials might spend more time voting how their people want, instead of how the money dictates.

I realize some will argue younger members may be more prone to political swaying, but I think the opposite will be true. If people know they have a limited number of years to get things done, they may be more likely to do things right.
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Robyn Scherer is a senior animal science, agricultural business and journalism and technical communication major. Her column appears Fridays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com._

Term limits prevent voters from picking best candidates
By Seth Anthony

Limiting the number of terms members of Congress can serve is an attractive concept –– it claims to yield representatives who reflect the will of the voters. But the bottom line is that, both philosophically and practically, term limits don’t accomplish that aim.

As a third-party voter, I’ve seen how many states prevent third-party candidates from even getting onto the ballot, by imposing arbitrarily high filing fees or requiring tens of thousands of signatures. But at least in those cases, it’s possible to make it onto the ballot.

Term limits remove even that theoretical possibility.

Term limits, at their core, are a means of excluding candidates from the ballot, and they thus deny voters the right to choose the candidate they believe best represents them and their interests.

Not only are they not fair, we can actually measure the negative effects term limits have at the state level. A study out of Wayne State University earlier this month reveals that, when term limits have been enacted, legislators rely more on lobbyists to provide them with information, spend less time overseeing government agencies and are less likely to build relationships across party lines to solve common problems. 

Although there are admittedly some entrenched members of Congress, the average length of service –– for both Senators and Representatives –– is only about 12 years. By and large, the public seems to already be effectively using the means of limiting terms written into our Constitution: elections.

_ Seth Anthony is Ph.D. student in chemistry, president of the Graduate Student Council, ASCSU Liason for Graduate and Professional Affairs and is in the Collegian most Tuesdays. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com._

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