Beginning this Congressional term, Senator Cruz (R-TX) proposed a constitutional amendment creating term limits. He did this at the beginning of the last congressional term. Although 82% of Americans support the idea of congressional term limits, it is a mostly symbolic proposal. Reaffirming Cruz’s principles to his supporters, the amendment has no chance of even making it to the floor for debate. People don’t enjoy banning themselves from their own job it turns out. Despite there being no practical path to term limits at the moment, it is worth examining and debating. We should explore the libertarian idea that people should have their freedom to elect authority kept intact. After all, 18% of Americans are not in favor of term limits.
Why Not Have Term Limits?
The argument against term limits is that the checks and balances put into the constitution were all designed to limit the power of the government. It was not to limit the freedom of the people. In fact, the 22nd amendment which limits the number of times a person may be President to two terms is an infringement upon this right, and Congress ought to repeal it. The people should not have this right limited at all. If the people of Texas want to elect Ted Cruz for the next 40 years they should be able to. This is just as the people of California have been able to elect Speaker Pelosi for the past several decades.
I agree with the libertarian sentiment. People’s rights should not be infringed. I envision the same America as former libertarian presidential candidate Austin Petersen does. A nation in which “gay married couples are free to protect their marijuana fields with fully automatic machine guns,” as you aren’t violating the rights of others, do as you please.
Lack of Term Limits Don’t Really Protect People’s Freedom
Though I agree with those notions, when it comes to the issue of term limits, it is not a case of limiting the people’s freedom. Rather it is a case of limiting their political power. Furthermore, those who tend to support this notion are not ideologically consistent when it comes to limiting the political power of the people.
I have a right to freedom of speech, I have a right to defend myself, I have a right to marry who I want. This is the libertarian position on those issues, and I agree. That’s because those are rights. I do not have a natural right to continually elect the same person, thereby granting them a certain set of powers. That is a power, not a right, and it is perfectly okay to limit such power.
The Framers themselves agreed with this. They were quite worried about a tyranny of the majority, and even the ignorance of the majority. And history proves the worried were not unreasonable. People have seemed to enjoy taking away the rights of other groups of people through the course of human history. And from a moral standpoint, there is no difference in a single man taking away your property, and a group of people voting to take your property. The Framers, in fact, take several precautions to restrict this power. They created the Electoral College, the Senate, and were originally not huge supporters of the vast amounts of people voting. They in no way believed the people should have unchecked political power, as they would abuse it just like any politician.
The Hypocrisy of Anti Term Limit Legislation
Voting for someone is no different, the abuse of power is inevitable, therefore it is worth limiting. This is unlike freedoms which should remain unrestricted even with the risk of abuse.
What is interesting as those against limited term limits seem to be for all other restrictions put on the people’s political power. They tend to be for the Senate and for the Electoral College. Which, if they truly care about the people having unlimited political power, would reject these things and actively oppose them. In fact, if taken to its logical conclusion, they should be for pure democracy. Every issue should be subject to the opinion of the people. They should vote for every position from President to Supreme Court Justices. This will ensure the people’s political power is fully realized.
The Real Way to Preserve The People’s Political Power
But they don’t support any of that because they see the danger of unchecked power. Danger persists when it comes to unchecked term limits. We should work as hard as we can to turn Senator Cruz’s bill from ceremonial to ratified, whether through the Congress or by Article V. We should limit one more path from which tyranny or corruption may arise.
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