Throw the bums out but don’t toss out the baby with the bathwater. That’s the difference between elections and term limits.
Term limiting members of Congress is an inviting answer to a body deservedly held in record low esteem by the American public, but it is an arbitrary, ineffective and unconstitutional method of cleaning house.
High turnover isn’t what’s needed to repair what’s wrong with Congress, though admittedly it will help in many cases. The real problem with term limiting is that mandatory short tenure makes it very tempting for politicians to use their time in Congress to prepare for lucrative positions on the private sector payrolls by helping those who can help them the most, not the folks back home who sent them to Washington.
Who benefits from term limits? Not the voters. They would lose a lot of accumulated expertise that only comes with experience. The beneficiaries would be the short-time lawmakers who can look forward to a hefty boost in pay to use what they learned and the contacts they made to better serve their new employers and to line their own pockets. The other big winners will be the executive branch, which can flummox the uninitiated lawmakers, and the lobbyists and special interests who will move in quickly to “help and advise” the newcomers learn the ropes (and dangle future jobs before their eyes).
Term limiting legislators would also weaken the influence of the Jewish community, which has depended on building long-term relationships, starting at the local level, to educate politicians on important issues like funding for social services, education and other domestic programs as well as being the front line in Israel’s defense.
As for term limits, we already have them – they’re called elections.
Read more about the problem and some solutions in my Jerusalem Post column.