Under Article V of the Constitution, the states have the power to call a Constitutional Convention to amend the Constitution. Two-thirds of state legislatures (34) must pass statements in support of a Constitutional Convention for the convention to be called. In the past, all Constitutional Conventions have been called for with one amendment in mind. Currently, the Convention of States Action Program is taking petitions to give to state legislatures to show public support for a Constitutional Convention, but no specific amendments are named. The movement wants the legislatures to create and draft these new amendments, with the only caveat being that they must limit the federal government’s power. The federal government will have no power over the convention, nor will it have any vote or say in the amendments up for debate. This allows the representatives that are closest to the people to propose amendments that are truly supported by the people.
Jack Shields | @Jack_Shields20
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.
Kevin D’Amato | United States
Going into 2019, the political scene has undergone massive change. Following the 2018 midterms, in which the Democrat Party regained a majority in the House of Representatives, tensions have been rising. The president allowed the government to shut down over the lack of funding for his border wall. He also is already threatening to potentially do it again on February 15th. Needless to say, relations in the government are poor. This leads me to ask: What are some policy goals that the country can still pass in this political environment?
1. Criminal Justice Reform
Of course, the First Step Act did just pass. However, this is just the beginning; to assume that one bill can fix a system as bloated and broken as ours is absurd. The First Step Act, as the name implies, is a “first step” to solve our problems.
We still need to take dramatic moves in the prison system. Some things to keep in mind should be:
- Abolishing mandatory minimums
- Focusing less on punishments such as solitary and more on rehabilitation programs
- Cracking down on officer malfeasance towards prisoners
2. Pull Troops Out of Military Conflict
The President stunned many, including me, when he abruptly announced he was pulling troops out of Afghanistan and Syria. The non-hawkish American population was ecstatic. Now, the only thing we need to do is hold him to it.
Mixed statements from several other Trump Administration officials have openly contradicted the President’s own words. It is Congress’s and our duty to hold the President to his words and bring our troops home.
3. End Government Spying
It often seems like the United States government outright ignores the 4th Amendment. Agencies like the NSA and FBI have made the illegal spying of American citizens commonplace. All accountability is lost when you are not aware of your own government’s actions.
The Patriot Act and FISA courts require, at the least, massive reforms. Ideally, we should move to abolish them, but this is not necessarily likely. Regardless, you have an inherent right to reasonable amounts of privacy.
As a bonus, a pardon for Edward Snowden would be nice, too!
4. Term Limits
Term limits are the most reasonable policy to enact in the United States right now. Virtually everyone that you talk to, regardless of political persuasions, believe that some sort of limitation is necessary.
Besides just getting old, crazy politicians out of office, term limits get new ideas in Washington, stop the constant fight for reelection, and partially get money-tied politicians out of the spotlight.
The Supreme Court’s 1995 decision essentially deeming term limits unconstitutional does make things complicated, but not impossible. The way forward for this plan is a rare but necessary constitutional amendment.
5. Federal Legalization of Marijuana
Let’s be honest, it’s bound to happen sometime soon.
I don’t need to go on a diatribe to inform you of the benefits of marijuana legalization. The economic, social, and political changes that would form are life-changing.
It’s about time that we let adults make their own decisions; whether it be to drink, gamble or smoke weed. As long as you’re not hurting your neighbor, freedom is absolute.
Josh Hughes | United States
Of the incumbents that ran for the House of Representatives in the 2018 midterms, 91% won. To put that into perspective, that number is actually lower than in recent elections. While not every representative that ran was a lifetime politician, too many are. The Senate is not much better, with 84% of running incumbents winning another term. This number is more representative of recent trends. Clearly, the 2018 midterm elections proved that Congressional term limits are essential in America.
Why Are Term Limits an Issue?
There are dozens of senators and representatives who have served at least 20 years in Congress. The longest-serving member of the Senate is currently Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont who has been in office since 1975. Don Young from Alaska assumed office in 1973 and is the most tenured member of the House.
Plenty of fine congressmen have served these long terms. However, there are still issues with the idea of lifetime politicians. In a democratic republic like the U.S., the only way for the government to be for the people is for it to be of the people. This does not mean bureaucrats and Washington cronies, but rather sensible, everyday Americans. Someone who has been in office nearly a half-century is unlikely to still know the rapidly-changing interests of the country.
An incumbent is far more likely to be elected than a challenger. This prevents new members and ideas from entering the political realm at the federal level. It only serves to disadvantage the country. A fresh group every few years with new takes and policies would be more beneficial; the same ideas do not work in vastly different cultures and climates.
How to Create Term Limits
What Congress would willingly limit its own power? The reality is, this one probably will not. However, under Article V of the Constitution, the states can add an amendment to the document. A 2/3 vote from the states is needed to propose the amendment and hold a convention, and a 3/4 vote is needed from state legislatures to ratify the amendment.
Grassroots campaigns such as the “U.S. Term Limits” movement are operating to raise support for this issue. This campaign has garnered millions of signatures via its petition and even has support from members of Congress.
A Fair Amendment
A proper term limits amendment should limit congressmen to 12 years in office. This could occur entirely as a senator or representative, or as some combination of the two. Those already over 12 years would be ineligible to run again, once their term is over. Twelve years gives each congressman enough time to be influential without falling out of touch from American interests. This ensures that nearly every decade will have a new set of congressmen, ensuring fresh faces and ideas.
Many people already back the idea of congressional term limits. In fact, 15 states already have laws in place that limit the terms for state legislatures. It is not an impossible task to apply the same thinking to the federal level. While this may not seem like something that will happen soon, the movement is constantly gaining support and momentum, and it would not be surprising to see important changes in the near future.
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By Dane Larsen | @therealdanelars | United States of America
“The long experiment with professional politicians and professional government is over, and it failed.” -Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House.
In 1947, Congress proposed the 22nd amendment to the US Constitution: an act to place term limits on the President. Specifically, it forbid a president from serving more than two full terms, or a maximum of ten years. This came shortly after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt served four consecutive terms in office.The reasoning behind this piece of legislation was to keep the head member of the executive branch of government from becoming corrupt, or sustaining corruption. For, as we escaped from in 1776 with the British Monarchy, if one person stays in power for too long, it gets to their heads.
In an experiment by student Andy Yap of Columbia University, over 100 people were shown pictures of others surveyed. Yap was able to get them to believe the 99 people seen in pictures were shorter than themselves (for the most part). There is in fact a correlation between a taller height and a higher position of power as seen in the Fortune 500 CEO’s, where the average height is 6 ft, 2 in. This figure is 4.5 inches taller than the average US men’s height (5’9½”). Point is, that there is a trend of people who may actually have power, or perceive that they have power, with a taller height. The fact that the people thought they were taller than the others after being persuaded into a position of power, shows that power corrupts the brain.
Staying in power for too long has proven to change the mindset of the person in question, and will do it again in the future, given the opportunity. Thus, 76% of America, according to a 2013 Gallup poll, is asking an important question. Why have we not implemented legislative term limits? It seems rather foolish to limit the President, but allow Congress to serve endless terms.
This past year, citizens of Michigan’s thirteenth district were surprised when Rep. John Conyers announced his immediate retirement. He was 88 years old, and served for 52 years on Capitol Hill without term limits. To give you a bit of perspective, in 1966, when he took office for his first term, Startrek was just debuting, Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys was released, and the US was one year deep into their mission in Vietnam.
With only a 15% approval rating, our congressmen and congresswomen have proven to do next to nothing with their time in their positions. These people sign themselves into their own salaries, their own day-to-day agendas, and eventually, if the legislation were to make it that far, they’d be voting on limiting their own power. It’s ludicrous to think that these people would restrict how long they could make empty promises to their supporters, and put on a bright, big smile for the cameras.
“It is a popular delusion that the government wastes vast amounts of money through inefficiency and sloth. Enormous effort and elaborate planning are required to waste this much money.” -PJ O’Rourke, political satirist and journalist, CATO institute.
There are, however, a few lawmakers with our best interests in mind. People like the Florida chapter of the Republican Liberty Caucus, Ben Sasse (R- NE), Thom Tillis (R- NC), David Perdue (R- GA), and many more advocate for term limits. Though they may not get the press that other people in Washington may get, I encourage you to read more up on them, to support them to bringing progress back to Congress.
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