The Instigator
higa123
Pro (for)
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The Contender
greenturtlez
Con (against)
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Term limits for Congress

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/21/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,325 times Debate No: 36890
Debate Rounds (4)
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higa123

Pro

It has become clear throughout American history that incumbency is rampant among members of Congress. Recently, voting incumbents back into power constitutes the majority of elections in both the House and the Senate. There should be a set term limit for both Representatives and Senators, to continuously bring new congressmen in, to eliminate incumbency, and to help restore America to it's roots.
greenturtlez

Con

Term limits are not necessary for the Senate and the House to function. James Madison stated in the Federalist Papers that, "[A] few of the members of Congress will possess superior talents; will by frequent re-elections, become members of long standing; will be thoroughly masters of the public business, and perhaps not unwilling to avail themselves of those advantages." [1]. As Madison stated, there will be people who are natural born political leaders. Term limits prevent strong leaders from staying in office and working at their potential.

Experience is not a sacrifice we should make to ensure fresher faces are elected into Congress. Madison also brings up the issue with new members, "The greater the proportion of new members of Congress, and the less the information of the bulk of the members, the more apt they be to fall into the snares that may be laid before them." [1]. Would it really be a bright idea to constantly bring new members into Congress? The less experience a person has, the more they have to take away from the functionality of an institution. Incumbents already know what needs to be done and how it needs to be done.

Along the lines of functionality, the law making process could be compromised if the majority of Congress members are replaced every election. Constantly changing leaders and politicians can stall new laws.

1.http://seventyonenews.com...
Debate Round No. 1
higa123

Pro

While certainly a few people are naturally born to lead others, and these would make very beneficial politicians, the vast majority of politicians in Congress are out of touch with the population and "career politicians." In addition, the monstrously high rate of re-election (leading to the incumbency of inadequate and bad congressmen) is appalling. In 2008, 94% of House members up for re-election were, and 83% of Senators were also. In 2010, 85% of incumbents were re-elected to Congress. While this would make sense if said incumbents were beneficial, effective politicians, the case is much worse. Many people usually just vote incumbents back into their positions based only on remembering the name from last election.
There is great danger in gradually being cut off from the population you represent. Members of Congress are supposed to effectively represent the people's interests and concerns, but if they do not interact with said people, say, due to being continuously in Washington D.C., your connection with the people disappears. How can you claim to represent people you barely ever see, converse with, or listen closely to? It seems the only time they interact closely with the people is on the election trail back into their positions.
Next, the issue of "career politicians." I would define "career politicians" as politicians who's main concern, drive, and goal is to get a seat of power and keep it, and most of what they know is being a politician. This represents a danger. Instead of going into power to improve society, solve issues, and help the people that elected them, like they should be doing, they are either on the campaign trail or ruling down from Congress, not necessarily caring of those that elected them. In the words of professor Mark P. Petracca (University of California, Irvine): " The oft-touted expertise of professional politicians as representatives stands in stark contradiction to the essential function of political representation in a democratic republic, namely, to connect the people to the government through representatives who share their values and stay in touch with the reality of their day-to-day lives."
Also, as a byproduct of term limits, others must step up to the plate, so to speak, and as people can't just vote on the same-old-same-old, they would have to pay more attention to the new candidates. This would raise the average American's political involvement, and help expose some truths to the people. If I would have to choose limits on how long a Congressmen could serve, I would say at maximum twelve years (either in the House or Senate exclusively, or a combination of both). As an example, if someone serves 2 terms as a Representative, they have 8 more years, which they could either do by one term as a Senator and one more terms as a Representative. Or, someone could serve two full terms as a Senator, or six full terms as a Representative. I would like to know what you would set the term limits to, if you had to (and keep said term limits reasonable).
greenturtlez

Con

While your first point is valid, how will term limits solve the issue of ineffectiveness? You will always have politicians who are ineffective. Term limits will just do more harm than good. For example, a politician voted into his final term has no motivation to do anything for anyone. You state that, "Many people usually just vote incumbents back into their positions based only on remembering the name from last election." If term limits were instilled, and people vote the way you stated, wouldn't ineffective politicians still spend a good amount of time in office? How will term limits stop the issue with incumbency? The only way you can stop incumbency problems is to limit each person to one term. The problem isn't incumbency and the solution isn't term limits. The problem is the American voters who choose the people sent to Washington.

All members of Congress spend the majority of their time in Washington. Old members, new members, every member to an extent is out of touch with their state and district. Bringing in new congress people every election may bring in politicians who are more in touch with the state, but you do it by sacrificing politicians who are established in Washington. Incumbents have experience and connections in D.C., which new congress people need time to work for. It's easier and takes less time for an incumbent to connect with the people than it does for a new member to get experience and connections. Term limits will not push politicians to connect with their constituents, I feel like it will only make them resent the people even more.

Term limits would definitely end the "career politician". Which is another reason why they shouldn't be instilled. If people want a career as a politician, isn't that up to them? Here in America, you can become whatever you want as long as you work hard for it. Do you reprimand people for spending their life in business or science? I do agree that they should use their power to benefit their constituents. But again, term limits won't stop politicians from using their power to benefit their selves. Actually since their time in office is limited, I can see politicians using the time they have only to make things advantageous for their self.

I don't support term limits. But if I had to I would prefer to see limits on consecutive terms. I like the idea of senators serving two terms, representatives serving six, and then taking a break for two or four years. That way if they want to come back into politics they can. They can take a break from politics to reconnect with the people, yet still maintain a level of experience.
Debate Round No. 2
higa123

Pro

higa123 forfeited this round.
greenturtlez

Con

greenturtlez forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
higa123

Pro

higa123 forfeited this round.
greenturtlez

Con

greenturtlez forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
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