I think it is time to reconsider term limits for some elected officials, particularly our congressional representatives. I have heard and read the many objections to this idea, but we have reached a point where I don’t think any other approach can help rescue our government from control by special interests.
However, I propose term limits with a twist. I suggest a system in which a term limit could be bypassed for a particularly popular elected official. For example, what if someone could be re-elected only if they receive two-thirds of the vote? If your constituency feels that strongly, then perhaps you deserve re-election.
Here’s a specific proposal. U.S. senators get one six-year term, and representatives can serve two two-year terms using normal voting. After that, however, they need to be elected by a two-thirds super majority to serve any additional terms.
Now, I can hear all the objections! But the details of my proposal certainly are debatable. Perhaps a 60 percent majority should be enough for retention, for example. What I think is certain is that our senators and representatives are never going to vote for anything that comes close to regulating the influence of special-interest groups. There is too much money at stake, money that I believe already has corrupted our governmental system to the core. To be sure, term limits won’t eliminate the impact of special interests, but it sure would change the landscape. If nothing else, it would help give “we the people” another way to express our opinions and exercise control over the representative process.
Imagine what it would be like if our senators and representatives spent less time worrying about re-election. My proposal, which I call “flexible term limits,” wouldn’t eliminate the problem. I think it would change it for the better — at least for a while!