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Sample essay topic, essay writing: Congress And The Change In Term Limits - 1602 words
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Congress and The Change in Term LimitsIn 1994, for the first time in 40 years, Congress was drastically changed. TheDemocratic majority was uprooted and new, lively, freshmen were instated with ajob to undertake. As part of the Republican=s AContract with America,@ thesenew Republicans had to revise the current Congressional term limit status. Inundertaking this task, these men and women ran into a seemingly stone road-block.This roadblock consisted of long-term, carreerists who were unwilling to change.The problem was not that there were no Congressmen who were committed to realchange elected in 1994 because there were, but Congress was highly dominated bylong-term careerists in both parties who seemed to have more loyalty to thesystem than to their constituents. As Thomas Jefferson put it, 'Whenever a manhas cast a longing eye on offices, a rottenness begins in his conduct.' (Oxforddictionary of quotations, p.272) Over time, career legislators are more likelyto promote the interest of the establishment of which they are part than that ofthe larger public. This fact is not surprising.
If most of a persons time isspent meeting with lobbyists, constituents, and bureaucrats, that person mayactually come to believe what these influential people are saying. This is whynew blood needs to enter Congress more frequently, in order to avoid the highlyinfluenced Congress that is filled with old people with old ideals. Needless tosay the once optimistic freshmen were unsuccessful in their task, and it=s plainto see why. Until that changes, Congress is not going to change. Congressmenneed to get back to basics and realize that they are in office to serve theirpeople, and not themselves.What would change Congress is term limits. By the middle of last year nearlyhalf of the states had restricted, almost all of them by popular vote, thenumber of terms that their members of Congress could serve
But then the SupremeCourt intervened. In U.S. Term Limits, Inc., et al. v. Thornton et al., a narrowfive-to-four majority voided these restrictions, stating that 'allowingindividual States to craft their own qualifications for Congress would thuserode the structure envisioned by the Framers, a structure that was designed, inthe words of the Preamble to our Constitution, to form a Amore perfect Union.@(US Law Week, 1995)Congress, naturally, refuses to approve a constitutional amendment on termlimits.
Most state legislatures also refuse to approve term-limit measures. Andnow the Supreme Court refuses to allow the people to approve term limits. Thisfact shows the importance of developing new strategies for subjecting members ofthe U.S. Congress to term limits. There are many ways in which this could occur,but before one can decide which might be the most effective, one must firstrealize why they are so necessary.The election of 1994 was supposed to be one of dramatic change.
Three dozenDemocratic incumbents fell, but the overall House reelection rate still ranroughly 90 percent with 314 of the 348 members remaining unmoved, and the Senatereelection rate ran 92 percent with 24 of the 26 members up for election unmoved.Absolutely no Republican incumbents, no matter how flawed, lost in theelection of 1994. These sad statistics show that no matter revolutionary thevoters get, most incumbents still win, and careerists still largely dominatepolicy. Edward H. Crane states that, 'Those who run for Congress these days aregenerally those who find the prospect of spending a significant portion of theirlives as a politician to be an attractive option. Politicians are less likelyto have a real life before entering politics.
Many political pros start out asstate legislators in their early twenties and never stop. (Crane (2), p. 251)Validating this statement is Senator Warren Rudman, a Republican from NewHampshire, who explained that he retired because 'the longer you stay in publicoffice, the more distant the outside world becomes.' (Wall Street Journal, p.A22) But he is one of the few to voluntarily step aside when his proper time wasup. According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, senior representativesare more likely than junior legislators to vote for pork and special-interesteconomic intervention. (Moore, p.21) The National Taxpayers Union figures, in arecent survey, demonstrate that, on average, spending rises with terms served.(Payne, p.175) Just as important, perhaps most importantly, is the corruptinginfluence of power. With seniority comes influence, and with influence oftencomes corrupting power.The constant worry of the upcoming re-election is also a contributing factor ina Senators actions, even the most ideologically committed representative mayslip into putting his career before his ideology.
Incumbency has become aninvaluable aid to reelection because of the benefits of power, which usuallymean using government to direct resources to their own districts to makethemselves look good. Incumbents also raise funds and win votes by posing asdefenders of individuals, organizations, and regions threatened by taxes andregulations which were imposed by other legislators, they usually do this to winvotes in their districts or states. So, as they are in office they focus onreelection. Even legislators with very strong principles are likely to findthemselves defending individual programs and projects as they attempt to maketheir people believe that they shun overall government spending and regulation.This manipulation of the people leads any incumbent to a very good chance of re-election,and in our current status, there is no end in sight for these careerlegislators.Political careers in Congress can be battled in various ways. One could attemptto limit incumbents' electoral advantages such as fund-raising, postal franking,and their large, very important, legislative staff. The people could alsoattempt to eliminate campaign finance restrictions which may allow a wealthyindividual to donate as much as they want to a candidate they believe in makingthe incumbents= AWar Chest@ slightly less intimidating.
One other way thatCongress could be slightly more regulated is by restricting the amount oflobbying taking place. (Smith, p.A15) While all of those possibilities might behelpful, they would not be easy to achieve. In order to tackle the real problemyou must seek out the problem, and that problem is political careerism. Todaythe entire political system is biased toward long-term legislative service. Theonly way to counteract that bias is term limits. The limits should be shorterrather than longer.
Three terms for the House would, for instance, have amuchmore powerful transforming effect than would the six terms favored by manyofficeholders. (Bandow, p.221) 81.3 percent of voters who support term limitsprefer three terms; just 15.8 percent favor six terms. (McLaughlin, p.1)Shorter term limits would better ensure distribution of leadership positions oncriteria other than seniority, giving bright new Congressmen the hope of holdinga position of responsibility before returning to private life.So what can be done to change this horrible trend? The Supreme Court decisionto void Astate-imposed@ limits on congressional terms requires either a judicialreversal or approval of a constitutional amendment. Neither would be easy toobtain but there are ways in which they might occur. A constitutional amendmentcan only come by either action by either Congress, whose members would beaffected by such term limits, or two-thirds of the states.
Supporters of termlimits need to apply continuing pressure on Congress to pass a constitutionalamendment. Obviously this strategy faces many barriers. There is one other wayin which an amendment can be passed in the United States. States can call for aconstitutional convention to draft a term-limits amendment for submission to allthe states for approval. Getting backing from the necessary 34 states will beno easy task.
The problem with calling a convention is that once it is calledit is very possible that term limits will not be the only issue on the agenda.This sets the United States up for a, Arunaway Convention,@ in which thosestates could very possibly come out of the convention with a whole newConstitution instead of only a term limits amendment. Pressuring Congress is byfar the most advantageous choice. Even the mere thought of a possibleConstitutional Convention may cause Congress to realize the people=s strongfeelings on the term limit issue, thus forcing them to draft their own amendmentin order to keep the states out of a Convention. (Clegg, 1995)The problem concerning term limits will not just simply fade away. The longerthere are incumbents gaining power, the worse off the people of the UnitedStates will be.
The American people need to stage a political uprising by usingtheir power to amend the Constitution and impose term limits on theirlegislators. This power can be direct through the convention or indirect bytheir overwhelming influence, but it needs to arrive soon. I see an end comingsoon to this issue because of the great amount of public concern. Congress willdo something soon, because if the do not, they are too afraid to see what thepeople will do themselves.ReferencesBandow, Doug. 'Real Term Limits: Now More Than Ever,' Cato Institute PolicyAnalysis April 6, 1995.
(www.cato.org)Clegg, Roger. AIs It Time for a Second Constitutional Convention?@ Washington:National Legal Center for the Public Interest, 1995. (www.clegg.com)-Iused this site for reference onlyCrane,Edward H.(1) 'Campaign Reforms vs. Term Limits,' Washington Times, June26, 1996, p. A15.Crane, Edward H.(2), 'Six and Twelve: The Case for Serious Term Limits,'National Civic Review, 1991.
P. 251.Jefferson, Thomas. 'Letter to Tench Coxe' 1799, The Oxford Dictionary ofQuotations, 3d ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979, p. 272.McLaughlin, Fabrizio, Memorandum to 'all interested parties,' February 6, 1996,p. 1. (www.poilticalscience/pub/quotes.com)Moore, Stephen and Steelman, Aaron. 'An Antidote to Federal Red Ink: TermLimits,' Cato Institute Briefing Paper no. 21, November 3, 1994, p. 21.(Http://www.cato.org)Payne, James, AThe Culture of Spending: Why Congress Lives beyond Our Means@University Press, 1991 p.
175-80.Smith, Bradley A. 'Campaign Finance Regulation: Faulty Assumptions andUndemocratic Consequences,' Cato Institute Policy Analysis no. 238, September13, 1995, p. A15 (www.cato.org)U.S. Term Limits, Inc., et al.
v. Thornton et al., 63 U.S. Law Week 4413, 4432.May 22, 1995.Wall Street Journal 'Conflict in Congress,' Wall Street Journal, April 22, 1996,p. A22.
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