The Instigator
Demauscian
Pro (for)
Winning
3 Points
The Contender
salve
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

The U.S. ought to impose term limits on Congress

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Demauscian
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/13/2010 Category: Politics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,996 times Debate No: 13649
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (9)
Votes (2)

 

Demauscian

Pro

My position is that The U.S. should limit the number of terms on Congress. My reasons for this are:
a) Overtime, congressmen become adapted to the Washington culture, and are no longer able to represent those who live in their states or districts. After all, you only have to live in a state for one or two years (depending on the state) in order to become a resident and qualify to represent that state or district.

b) Being a congressman has become a career for many politicians, and with that, those congressmen's entire purpose becomes being reelected rather than representing their constituents.

c) Despite Congress having an approval rate of 17%, around 90% of congressmen are reelected each cycle. In this year's highly anti-incumbent climate, 87% of House Representatives seeking reelection won their election, a record low since 1964. Including those retiring Representatives, 78% of the faces in the House of Representatives this January are already there now.
This is because Incumbents have many advantages, including name recognition, free media exposure, money from federal spending and various other things.

D) The people these congressmen represent want term limits, if they will not self-impose term limits, they are not representing their constituents. As of last week, 78% of Americans polled believed that there should be term limits on Congress. Since this is well over a super-majority, the will of the people ought to be followed.

To solve these problems I propose we amend the US Constitution to limit Congress to the equivalent of 12 years of service (6 terms for Representatives and 2 terms for Senators). This will allow new people to cycle in.

I am willing to concede to include a clause allowing Congressmen to be re-eligible after two years out of office or also include a grandfather clause to allow those currently in congress to remain. I disagree with and will argue against these two things, but if they are required to enable passage of this proposed amendment, I will compromise.

If term limits were right for president, then why are they not right for congress?
salve

Con

In a democratic institution, our duty is to restore as much power to the people as possible, and this is especially true when considering voting. For this reason, I negate my opponent's proposal.

Some quick definitions:

Term limits- a restriction on the number of times a public figure may be re-elected.

Firstly, to my opponent's case:

----------Rebuttal--------------

a)"Congressmen become adapted to the Washington culture, and are no longer able to represent those who live in their states or districts." Firstly this statement ignores the fact that many congressmen take trips back to their electorates during non-sitting times. Secondly, even if politicians did not return to visit their electorates, they could still represent them properly using advisors, letters from constituents and polls. Finally, even if this were true, the people would vote out these congressmen; what my opponent's proposal will do is to abandon the congressmen who do know their electorate, who represent their people well, to retire.

b)"Being a congressman has become a career for many politicians, and with that, those congressmen's entire purpose becomes being reelected rather than representing their constituents." Firstly, as I said in a), many congressmen do attempt to represent their people. Secondly, even if this weren't the case, a congressman looking to be re-elected does functionally the same as one representing their people; both pick the most popular decisions.

c)"Despite Congress having an approval rate of 17%, around 90% of congressmen are reelected each cycle… because Incumbents have many advantages, including name recognition, free media exposure, money from federal spending and various other things." Firstly, they have no real advantage; the statistics my opponent quoted are simply due to many areas being ‘safe' democrat or republican. When a politician is popular at one period of time, it's likely he will be at the next also. Secondly, the other candidates likewise have advantages; they have no track record to be attacked on. Finally, these advantages would remain under my opponent's model; the incumbent's successor would gain resources and publicity as the new member.

d)"The people these congressmen represent want term limits, if they will not self-impose term limits, they are not representing their constituents. As of last week, 78% of Americans polled believed that there should be term limits on Congress. Since this is well over a super-majority, the will of the people ought to be followed." This populist argument doesn't really make sense; in our democracy, politicians make their own choices based on what they think, and are later evaluated on it. The support of the move in society has even less effect on this debate.

-----------Own Case-------------

Finally, to my own case:

1)The rights of the people will be violated by my opponent's model. We believe that the people, the constituents my opponent talked so long about, deserve the right to elect whoever they want, for however long they want. We think this is not only inherent in a democratic system, but that it is the best way of achieving election of good candidates, as these people know their area. My opponent's model stops the people from choosing to elect a particularly popular candidate for over twelve years, which violates their right to choose.

2) Good candidates will be eliminated under my opponent's system. Any candidate who has been consecutively elected for twelve years is likely to be one that knows their area very well, is capable of making tough decisions and represents their area comprehensively. These are exactly the virtues we want in a politician, but, under my opponent's model, these long-standing members will be forced into retirement. My opponent's model will stop some of our best politicians from representing their people.

As my opponent's model will eliminate the best politicians and violates the people's right to choose
Debate Round No. 1
Demauscian

Pro

I would first thank my worthy opponent for accepting.
My order of business will be to review the negation's points then provide my rebuttal.

To the case as a whole: I would have to say, in a theoretically perfect world my opponent's points make sense, but since this world is imperfect I would argue that they actually work against his goals.

1)The people deserve the right to elect whomever they want. This is a statement that I believe. The problem is that our current system forces all but the rare few cases to be an election between two individuals. This would be fine since the primary process chooses those two individuals, except that when the incumbent runs, the primary tends chooses them. Thus an entire field of candidates is not available to the public.
It is rare for someone to successfully beat an incumbent in a primary, for this reason candidates rarely attempt to run against incumbents of their own party.

A notable example is of John Thune of South Dakota during this election. John Thune ran unopposed and secured 100% of the vote, while in 2004 he only won with 50.6%. To call this representative, the offering of one choice to pick from, is ridiculous as it does not show the state's true opinion.

2) This assumes that there is only one right candidate for a state or district. I would argue that during the first few elections, the results are pretty representative of the populace, but due to the advantages of incumbency they continue to represent the people who originally elected them more than they represent their current constituents. Long standing candidates don't know their area any more than freshman does, all it means is they understand the political process enough to win reelection, such as knowing how to get funding for their campaigns.

The current system eliminates potential politicians before giving them a chance. My model would remove one person as a choice AFTER a relatively long period of time and open the election to choose from a much broader range of candidates.

--Rebuttal--

a) I would argue against this, the congressmen are more influenced by lobbyists (usually not from their district) and their constituents that they agree with, rather than their constituents as a whole, especially when they are in a safe district.

b) A vote for what their constituents want is definitely representing. But there is much more to being reelected than voting the way your constituents want, a politician can vote differently from their constituents and still win reelection.
Ted Kennedy had represented Massachusetts since 1962 through 2009. Ted Kennedy's number one issue he fought for was Health Care reform, but he died shortly before the bill was debated and voted on. It is Notable that the special election to replace him was focused on one issue, Health Care reform, and the people of Massachusetts overwhelmingly voted against everything that almost 50 years of Kennedy's tenure was about.

c) To say Incumbents have "no real advantage" is ignorant at best, nearly 100 years of recent electoral history will say otherwise.
Now, here you bring up safe districts, this is all a part of the problem, earlier I pointed out the rarity of someone running against an incumbent in a primary. Because of this, the same candidate tends to appear on the general ballot and then the people vote for their party (not the candidate) and that candidate gets reelected. Thus the candidate represents the party of that district rather than the people.

d) Earlier you said when congressmen "pick the most popular decisions" they are "Representing their people" I took this to mean you define a Congressman who votes the way his/her district would vote as representing their district. But here you say the politicians make their own choices. When 78% of the people believe one thing and you still would vote against it then you are not representing them. I do not see why this is point is irrelevant.

For these reasons I support T
salve

Con

I thank my opponent for his reply. I'll defend my own case first and then discuss his.

1)The people's right to choose candidates. My opponent said, "the problem is that our current system forces all but the rare few cases to be an election between two individuals." This is not necessarily the case; independents can run if they feel unrepresented. However, even if my opponent was correct, using elections of candidates within the party's own system allows the party's ideology to be better represented. If voters feel unrepresented by major parties, they can support an independent or simply abstain from voting at all. Moreover, my opponent's model does nothing to give the people their choice; under his system, the people are not allowed to return to office their favored candidate. My opponent's example did not suit this debate, as the politicians discussed wouldn't have been affected by my opponent's model, as he has not been incumbent for twelve years. For these reasons, even if what my opponent has said is true, even if long-standing politicians have lost touch with the public-we should let the people decide whether or not to elect them.
2)The quality of long-standing politicians. If a politician has been elected for twelve years running, then they are likely to be a very good one. My opponent's first response was, "This assumes that there is only one right candidate for a state or district", which my argument didn't; it considered the reduction of talent that would happen under my opponent's model. His second response referred to the advantages of incumbency, which I'll consider in his case.

Now, to my opponent's case:

a)My opponent claimed that congressmen have become strongly influenced by the Washington culture, which I refuted on the basis that congressmen take regular visits back to their constituencies and can keep in touch with their electorate in this way. My opponent has now attempted to discuss the influence of lobbyists, but, simply, we believe that, if a congressman were to lose touch with his/her electorate, the people would simply vote them out. Furthermore, we would argue that the influence of lobbyists is greater on younger politicians than long-standing representatives of over twelve years, who clearly have real commitment to their community.
b)My opponent said, "A vote for what their constituents want is definitely representing. But there is much more to being reelected than voting the way your constituents want, a politician can vote differently from their constituents and still win reelection." This point is similar to a), but I would add that politicians have a real incentive to represent their people in that, if they do not do so well, they may have swings against them.
c)A big part of this debate, one that was discussed briefly in point two of my argumentation, were the supposed advantages of incumbency that my opponent discussed. This had two parts; a statistical discussion, which we agreed was influenced by safe seats, and a theoretical discussion of these advantages. My opponent claimed that incumbents are given an advantage because they almost automatically given the primary vote. This is not necessarily true; in some seats in which incumbents are replaced. Secondly, incumbents are not elected, as, largely, candidates are selected on the basis of their popularity within the electorate; the people's choice is indeed reflected during choosing of candidates. Thirdly, though, even if incumbents are given a slight advantage in terms of pre-selection, in an actual election, under the status quo, the election is entirely fair.
d)My opponent claims that many people support term limits, and that, for this reason, we should install them. Firstly, he never stated any source for this. Secondly, even if this were true, in the setting of a debate, we must decide for ourselves whether or not a policy is a good thing, not fold to public opinion.

For these reasons I am proud to stand against term
Debate Round No. 2
Demauscian

Pro

The Political system is broken. Once there was a time when just biannual voting was enough for well over 50% turn over, the average length of tenure was around 8.5 years, from the founding of our country up until the second world war. During the first 100 years of congress many Senators didn't even stay for the full 6 years, more than once a full turn over occurred in just 12 months 12.

During WWII something fundamentally changed, gone was George Washington's assertion that Politics ought to be a temporary job, gone was the self-imposed term limits. During his second term, Franklin D. Roosevelt did something that no president had previously done successfully, he won a third term, but once the rule was broken he ran again and served part of his fourth term until his death.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was a really good President, and of all the ones we've had he is the one I am glad to have run multiple times. But regardless of how good a president he was, this broke a precedent over on hundred years old. With a new precedent in place a president could have run for more that two terms guilt-free, if not for the Hoover Commission, headed by former president Hoover, which made a series of recommendations to change the Federal government, the most prominent being the passage of the 22nd amendment, which made a person ineligible to be President for more than 10 years (two terms plus two years of a previous term if they succeeded to the office)

Unfortunately, the precedent continued to stand among congressmen, suddenly being a politician had become a popular thing. Harry S. Truman, and the Hoover Commission, argued that term limits on Congress should be included with the term limits on President, this was ignored.

An argument continues to be brought up regarding Senators who have served a good term and represented their constituents well, though it is my opinion that a part of that can include refusing reelection (such as Senator Wayne Allard in 2008), I understand this argument. That is why I earlier stated that I would be willing to concede to have a re-eligibility clause, letting the senator run again after a term out of office or representative after 2 (4 years). What I fear this will do is create what I would call a "leap frog" congress, where two senators might switch a single seat back and forth. But even if the congressmen play political "leap frog" it is better than our current system, as it gives the people time to reconsider a senator's entire tenure before reelecting him as well as it will bring the politician back to citizen life for a period of time.

My argument is simple, today congressmen don't view it as a service but as a career, even while this is against what most of the original Founders believed. Proof of this is as follows, Roger Sherman said, "Representatives ought to return home and mix with the people. By remaining at the seat of government, they would acquire the habits of the place, which might differ from those of their constituents."

Senators like Ted Kennedy can be re-elected until death, while his constituents are against the very thing which is his number one campaign promise (see 2010 special election in Massachusetts), this I cannot stand for.

Unless we can return to a time where politicians such as then Illinois Representative Abraham Lincoln say "to enter myself as a competitor of another or to authorize anyone so to enter me is what my word and honor forbid" we must enforce a term limit. Due to the tried and proven incumbent advantages (which my opponent dismisses without explanation) elections alone are insufficient.
This is why I support Term Limits and urge everyone reading this to do the same.
salve

Con

What this debate has come down to is which method is better at choosing the best politicians. On my opponent's side, he proposes a blanket rule; he wants all representatives who have served for twelve years to be removed from office. On the other hand, I believe that in a democratic society we should endeavor to let the people choose, as they know who can represent them best. My opponent's historical analysis never really helped his case; we are here to debate whether to have term limits now, not where they came from and how they got here.

So with this key clash in mind, there were a few big issues in this debate. They were:

-The rights of the people to elect who they wish to.
-The quality of long-standing politicians
-The advantages of incumbency

---------Issue One---------

So firstly, to the rights of the people. We said from the start that all districts are different and that the people should choose who to vote for and for how long as they know their area and their candidate best. My opponent's only rebuttal to this point was that due to primaries, "our current system forces all but the rare few cases to be an election between two individuals". However in round 2, I argued that primaries are normally done on the basis of who is more likely to be elected and, even if they were not, individuals can still run. My opponent did not respond to this rebuttal, and so we can see that the people do have a right to choose their representatives and that this is violated by my opponent's model.

---------Issue Two---------

Secondly, to the quality of long-standing politicians. From first speaker in my second argument, I stated that, as in my introduction, politicians elected again and again by the people are of a very high standard; that is why they've been elected. My opponent's first response was that my argument assumed there was only one right candidate, which it didn't; it was about the reduction in talent we would see. He never responded to this analysis in his final round. The only real response was my opponent claiming that the advantages of incumbency negated this point.

---------Issue Three---------

Finally to the advantages of incumbency my opponent referred to. There were four parts to this argument:

a)The ‘Washington culture' and the influence of lobbyists that long-standing representatives participate in-but politicians can return to their electorates (that's why we have long breaks) and discuss issues there. Furthermore, the most likely people to be influenced by lobbyists are young politicians who have less commitment.
b)The obsession with re-election-as in a), most politicians actually do care for their electorate, especially if they are long-standing.
c)The statistical record of long-standing representatives and the importance of primaries-I argued and my opponent subsequently agreed that this statistical analysis was overly influenced by safe seats. Furthermore, as I said in my first argument, primaries are based on who is most likely to win an election; thus incumbents have no real advantage.
d)The supposed support for term limits-My opponent never stated any source here. But, as I said in Round 2, we must decide for ourselves in a debate about a policy's merits instead of folding to the people.
e) Finally, incumbents really have a disadvantage; they are judged on their track record, whereas opponents cannot be.

The central clash of this debate is this: Who best chooses representatives? My opponent has argued for a blanket rule because of the 'advantages of incumbency'; but these advantages don't stand up. On the other hand, on the Con side of this debate, I have argued that the people are the best at choosing their own representatives and that my opponent's model would also cause a great reduction of talent. For all of these reasons, I am proud to stand against term limits.
Debate Round No. 3
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by Demauscian 4 years ago
Demauscian
The source was: http://www.foxnews.com...

And Incumbents do have a very large advantage (primarily name recognition and campaign finance, I addressed both of these in my debate)
Posted by Demauscian 4 years ago
Demauscian
And thank you.
Posted by salve 4 years ago
salve
Thanks for the debate, Demauscian.
Posted by salve 4 years ago
salve
My last words is supposed to be 'limits'.
Posted by blackhawk1331 4 years ago
blackhawk1331
Salve, are you going to post an argument or surrender.
Posted by Demauscian 4 years ago
Demauscian
That last line in round 2 is supposed to say "Term Limits", but it cut me off at the "T" apparently.
Posted by blackhawk1331 4 years ago
blackhawk1331
This comment is for the benefit of Demauscian and targeted at salve. Use this however you want in the debate.

Please visit this site salve, it holds the Bill of Rights.
http://topics.law.cornell.edu...
If you visit it, you'll notice that there is no "right to choose" as you speak of, so your first argument is invalid.
Next, you state that "Any candidate who has been consecutively elected for twelve years is likely to be one that knows their area very well, is capable of making tough decisions and represents their area comprehensively. These are exactly the virtues we want in a politician, but, under my opponent's model, these long-standing members will be forced into retirement. My opponent's model will stop some of our best politicians from representing their people." What about Pennsylvania Rep. Arlen Spector? He wasn't voted out until he changed parties, and people realized he was only worried about his own career.
http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com...
Finally, salve, you state "This populist argument doesn't really make sense; in our democracy, politicians make their own choices based on what they think, and are later evaluated on it."
To attack this, I'll quote my least favorite president, so far(they may become second to least favorite, Obama's giving them quite some competition).
"And that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
Yes, Abraham Lincoln said this, and yes it is from the Gettysburg Address. I'd like to point out, however, that Lincoln states that our government is of, for, and by the people, therefore, if 78% want term limits, then by God there should be term limits.

Gettysburg Adress found here.
http://showcase.netins.net...
Posted by Demauscian 4 years ago
Demauscian
This is probably the issue I feel most passionate about. Generally I am a very liberal person but I am fully willing to support a Tea Party candidate for this cause.
Posted by blackhawk1331 4 years ago
blackhawk1331
I like this topic and would debate it, but Demauscian would need to be Con instead of Pro. I fully agree with Demauscian.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Demauscian 4 years ago
Demauscian
DemausciansalveTied
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Vote Placed by OrionsGambit 4 years ago
OrionsGambit
DemausciansalveTied
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