The US Federal Government Should Not Pass a Congressional Term Limit Amendment
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The United States federal government should pass a term limit amendment for members of congress.
United States Federal Government: "The United States Federal Government is established by the US Constitution. The Federal Government shares sovereignty over the United Sates with the individual governments of the States of US. The Federal government has three branches: i) the legislature, which is the US Congress, ii) Executive, comprised of the President and Vice president of the US and iii) Judiciary."
Term Limit: "A statutory restriction on the number of terms an official or officeholder may serve."
Constitutional Amendment: "The means by which an alteration to the U.S. Constitution, whether a modification, deletion, or addition, is accomplished."
1. A forfeit or concession is not allowed.
2. No semantics or trolling.
3. All arguments must be visible inside this debate, and character limits must not be broken. Sources may be posted in an outside link.
4. Debate resolution, definitions, rules, and structure cannot be changed without asking in the comments before you post your round 1 argument. Debate resolution, definitions, rules, and structure cannot be changed in the middle of the debate.
Voters, in the case of the breaking of any of these rules by either debater, all seven points in voting should be given to the other person.
Round 1: Acceptance
Round 2: Presenting all arguments (no rebuttals by con)
Round 3: Refutation of opponent's arguments
Round 4: Defending your arguments and conclusions (no new arguments)
I would like to thank lannan13 for accepting this debate.
I. Subversion of the Democratic Process
The United States, from its very inception, was founded on the principle that everyone (although the “every” part took a while) should have an equal voice in what the government should do. Term limits are antithetical to this concept because they force voters to vote for different politicians every certain number of years, even if the majority of voters want to keep that politician in office. Term limits block voters from exercising their right to vote for whomever they choose.
And this cost comes with no certain reward. We already have a process by which we can remove politicians from office without the need for term limits, namely the voting process. Term limits no more encourage democracy in this way than simple voter input does. With no benefit and a lot of cost to democracy, we see that term limits should not be enacted in a democratic society.
II. Lame Duck Terms
Another detriment of the concept of term limits is the fact that, if they were enacted, congressmen wouldn’t have to answer to the people they represent, because they wouldn’t have to worry about reelection. In that case, congressmen would pass bills that would suit their interests instead of the interests of the people. If there were no term limits, except in cases where congressmen retire fully from politics (and by then, they’ve probably already served their interests enough that they don’t have to do it so much), they would always have to answer to the people they represent.
“If a two-term limit were imposed on the Senate, even if only half the first-term senators sought and received re-election, on average a full one-third of senators would be lame ducks (two-thirds of the Senate eligible for re-election, multiplied by one-half re-elected, equals one-third lame duck -- starting from any other proportion of first-term to second-term senators moves quickly to this equilibrium state). More realistically, if 80 percent of senators eligible for re-election are re-elected, lame ducks will, on average, fill 44 seats in the Senate (55 5/9 x .80 = 44 4/9). That represents a large chunk of power with no democratic restraint on it.”
III. The Benefits of Experienced Congressmen
Term limits make it such that congressmen can only have a certain amount of experience. This is not beneficial, because congressmen must learn and master a wide variety of issues. This process is inhibited by term limits because, one, since the variety of issues is so large, it would take a lot of time to master them all, at least as long as what a term limit would be, meaning that, once a congressmen becomes fully experienced (assuming they are even able to become fully experienced), they would soon be forced out of office, and two, many new congressmen come in every election year, many more than there would be without congressional term limits, meaning that congress as a whole would be less experienced. In other words, if term limits were enacted, all of the experienced congressmen would be forced out and more inexperienced congressmen would be voted in than otherwise.
In the business world, experience is valued because, with experience, comes knowledge of how to be efficient in your job and how to perform your job well. Running a government can be significantly more complicated than running a business. Thus, we should want congressmen who have a good amount of experience in office. "Term limits are one of those ideas that sound good in theory but are madness in practice. You wouldn't want to go to a hospital filled with medical residents or stock a sports team with an ever-changing cast of rookies. Legislating is hard. We need to give people time to learn how to do it."
James Madison himself said in Federalist Paper 53 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. 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.”
A look at states where congressional term limits have been enacted shows this. One such state is California, which has enacted term limits and has been the premier example of fiscal ineptitude and poor governance. Another state is Missouri, where one study by the University of Missouri’s Truman School of Public Affairs concluded, “…that the shortening of lawmakers' careers has contributed to a lack of political expertise in the general assembly - resulting in a less effective government.”
One consequence of enacting congressional term limits is that congressmen, being, on average, less experienced (compared to the average congressman in a world without term limits), turn to the help of bureaucrats and lobbyists. This is a serious problem because bureaucrats and lobbyists typically have interests that they’d like to see advanced, which would influence the advice they’d give to inexperienced congressmen. This would then manifest itself in how congressmen voted on bills. In other words, with congressional term limits enacted, congressmen would become less an instrument of the people’s will and more an instrument of bureaucrats’ and lobbyists’ wills.
“[Reasearch associate professor] Valentine argues that the disappearance of long-term or career politicians in the general assembly has led to a deficit of policy experts. A former state senate staffer, Valentine said that the traditional route for lawmakers to distinguish themselves was to become a respected expert on a certain policy area and then become a resource for other lawmakers. Without this practice, Valentine said term limits have given more power to lobbyists who - as non-government employees - can remain in the halls of the capitol longer than any elected official in Jefferson City ever could. But at the same time, these lobbyists are not held accountable to constituents.”
Thus, we have seen that term limits subvert the democratic process, reduce the average experience that congressmen have, which means that congressmen are, on average, less able to do their job well and are more susceptible to taking bureaucrats’ and lobbyists’ leads, and introduces far more lame duck congressmen. Therefore, term limits should not be imposed for congressmen.
I thank my opponent for sending me this challenge and I do hope that this will be a good debate.
Contention 1: Term limits are popular.
Here in the United States, the nation was founded on the aspect of the rule of the people, by the people, and for the people. The aspects of our nation, as it always been, is to be determined by what the public wants and the government must serve the people. In a poll performed by Gallup, we can see 75% of Americans support Term Limits for Lawmakers . By these simple facts, term limits should be enforced. In the US, several states already impose term limits as 37 of the 50 state governors are bound by term limits and 49 states have term limits or mandatory retirement ages for their Supreme Court's . In the 90's, 24 US states put Term Limits on the ballot for Federally elected officials and 8 states passed the 2 thirds majority in order for it to completely pass while several other states had a majority support . The US Federal Government challenged this and won the case 5-4 in favor of the states being unable to limit terms at the federal level.
At this point, the question then comes to what are the types of term limits. To be specific, there are two different types of term limits: strong and weak. Strong term limits is where an elected person can only hold office for a set number of years or terms in their lifetime. Weak term limits are where elected people can only hold office for a set limit of consecutive times. They will still be able to run again, but only after a set number of terms since their last term in office . Ohio, for example, has weak term limits, so Gov. John Kaisch will be unable to run again this upcoming election for governor, but after a few terms, he will be able to run again. An example of strong term limits is like in Kansas. After two term limits, Governor Sam Brownback will be unable to run for Governor again.
Contention 2: Congressional Monopoly
Key issues with the status quo is that it provides a monopoly on Congress by those who are already in power. In the last 52 years, the House of Representative re-election rate for the incumbents was 97% at the highest, while the lowest was at 82% . Many times it is truly impossible for a candidate, who would even run a good campaign, to win simply do to the name recognition. Even if the candidate had a bad past, they would still likely get in. A good example of this would be the Senate election in Kansas where Senator Pat Roberts, who voted against the Farm Bill and he's from a farming state, still won the election over Greg Orman.
I apprehend that the total abandonment of the principle of rotation in the offices of President and Senator will end in abuse. --Thomas Jefferson to E. Rutledge, 1788. 
Thomas Jefferson, one of the key Founding Fathers, had feared the the ending of the rotation of Senators in and out of office. Jefferson worried that if we did not ensure that there was change, that the US would turn into a Monarchy due to the inability to change those in charge. Even though we would still have elections, the US would still be a Monarchy in Congress as it would be practically impossible for people to go and get elected to get rid of people in office. As the longer these politicians stay in power, they also become out of touch with the very people they represent. There are many career politicians in Washington that have done an extreme harm to their own people as they are no longer a resident of their state, but of DC. One of the key reasons that the Founding Fathers made the Congressional limits so short is so they would be more in tune with the people they Represent. Their constant re-elections by their monopoly on Congress creates a barrier to which harms the average American as they would be able to go and represent their own people, but the people of Washington DC.
Another issue that harms people running for office is the Seniority program. This is where people who have been in office for a huge multitude of times will get certain key roles in Congress such as being able to pick Committees and such . This harms newer politicians who are newly elected into office as they won't be able to get as much done as those who have been in office for a long period of time. This will increase the incentive for people to keep career politicians in office as they would normally get more things done then those who are newly elected into office as they wouldn't be able to get as much done at face-value.
Creating Term limits, either strong or weak, would end this system as it would force Congress, as a whole, to work together to treat more politicians as equals in their seats. In doing this, people would find incentives to be able to elect other politicians into office as they would be able to know and trust that their own candidates, of which would be newly elected, to be able to do as much in office as those who are more Senior members in Congress. This would create incentive for all politicians to be able to do more, even in the last phases of their terms, to do more as it would ensure that they would have a better standing for their party they would be leaving their office to, or if there is weak term limits, it would help ensure and submit them a case later down the road for them to run again for re-election. This would also help new legislation to become more noticeable and taken more seriously as a multitude of legislation that is purposed by newly elected politicians are not able to get as much attention as those who have been around for a long time. By doing this, a new layer of legislation would be introduced and more change would occur in this nation due to the amplitude of new ideas being able to be implemented.
I would like to thank lannan13 for presenting his arguments.
I. Popularity Is Irrelevant
The United States is a representative democracy, meaning that the populace doesn’t decide which laws should be passed. Instead, the populace elects representatives (i.e. congressmen) who pass laws for them. These congressmen can pass unpopular laws and disregard popular laws at their discretion. This means that the fact that the majority of people in the United States want term limits is irrelevant to whether or not congress has an obligation to pass them. But even if the United States were a direct democracy, this argument still commits the ad populum fallacy. A majority of people in Germany supported the rise of Nazism in the 1920s and 1930s, but that doesn’t mean that Nazism is a good political philosophy to uphold.
Even so, it’s uncertain whether people actually want term limits or not. Take the case of Oklahoma. The majority of the people in Oklahoma supported state congressional term limits, even though they later elected a congressmen who had been in office for almost 25 years. “Of course anti-legislative sentiment was so strong at the time that even rural voters joined in passing term limits. In Muskogee County [Oklahoma] voters went nearly 2-1 for term limits and in the same election returned to office a House member with nearly 25 years experience.” If these people really wanted term limits, why did they continually elect someone to office for nearly 25 years? It seems people may not be as amenable to the concept of term limits as they think they are.
II. A Congressional Monopoly Is a False Fear
While it’s true that, in the current American political climate, congressmen typically get reelected, this isn’t a bad thing. Some of the problems with the idea that incumbent politicians are worse than newer politicians were stated in my first argument. Namely, that incumbent politicians are more experienced and less prone to the influence of lobbyists, both of which are huge pluses when it comes to congressional efficiency.
Even so, there are periodically huge upsets in congressional races. There were huge upsets during the 2008 elections by Tea Party backed Republican challengers and notably Arlen Specter was defeated in his 2010 Senatorial campaign after serving for nearly 30 years. And in 2010 alone, 57 incumbents were defeated. The failing economy in 2008 forced a lot of incumbent republicans from office, the rise of the Tea Party got a lot of Tea Party backed congressmen in office at the expense of democrats and establishment republicans, and the general malice felt towards Obama in 2014 forced a lot of incumbent democrats from office. Upsets like these happen all the time because of shifting political climates, and the fact that, in certain years, most incumbents remain in office is simply a reflection of the how positive the populace views congress.
As for the claim that senior congressmen are typically chosen for roles in picking who joins with committees, I have two responses. One, these roles are better held by senior congressmen because they know better what kind of people need to be in each committee, and they know each individual congressmen better, and thus know better who’d fit in best in each committee. A newer politician doesn’t know the required roles or his fellow congressmen so well.
And two, even if this was a problem, it doesn’t necessitate term limits so much as it does a reform of how people are selected for committees. For example, instead of term limits, a plan could be enacted whereby such roles are filled at random, thus giving newer congressmen more of a chance of having such roles.
While I do think we need to treat newer congressmen more respectfully, I don’t think term limits are the best solution. All term limits do is eliminate long-term congressmen, making everyone essentially new, which has several drawbacks. A better solution would be more local, such as giving newer congressmen a bit more power to make new legislation, to pick committees, or to head committees. This would keep congress, as a whole, more experienced and less susceptible to the influence of lobbyists, but would give newer congressmen more of a say on the floor. Term limits are simply much too broad of a solution to be of any use.
As I have explained before, people already have the power to impose term limits - by simply booting out all who they feel have served long enough. Term limits do help fix a few problems, but introduce new problems along with it. "And the problem isn't just that six years isn't enough time to understand the issues and the process. It's also not long enough to build strong relationships across the aisle, particularly given that a lot of other members will have to leave two or four years after she gets there." If a public servant does a good job, why not reward their service with a positive vote and more time in office?
I appoligize for the late response, my internet kept glitching making it hard to save my argument, so I'll be trying again and hopefully it doesn't get deleted. You'll have to fogive me if I seem a bit rushed as I'm up against the clock here.
Contention 1: Subversion of the Democratic Process
My opponent claims that Term limits are harmful to the Democratic process, but this is unlikely since the overwhelming majority of Americans actually support term limits . It is the responsibility of the US Federal Government to listen to the people and they have not done so. This turns the argument to my favor since we have to see that our nation was founded on Democratic principles and here we have a government who will not limit itself as the people, an overwhelming majority, supports this idea. This aspect trumps the area where people want to vote for incumbents since this is an issue they want more and it has a direct impact upon the political process in the US.
My opponent brings up how people can just vote out politicians, but it's not that simple. We can see that the incumbents have an advantage in elections where they win way more often than not. I have shown that in the US Congress, the re-election rate for incumbents was 97% the highest while the lowest was at 82% in the past 52 years ! This shows that even though we may want to elect our politicians out of office, we can see that they have a huge advantage that makes it hard for any challenger to be able to actually get elected to replace the incumbent. This is an obsticle to our political process and must be removed in order to have complete democracy with competition. Under the status quo, this isn't the case.
Contention 2: Lame Duck Terms
My opponent brings up how politicians may create legislation where it goes against the people they represent. This already happens in the status quo though. Many carear politicans are now citizens of Washington DC, not their home state. This can be seen in the case of Kansas Senator Pat Roberts, where he voted against the farm bill in a state where a large portion of their economy is agriculture . How is this any different than the status quo?
My opponent is also forgetting about weak term limits. If weak term limits are enacted, then the politicians would still be able to run for re-elections again after the waiting period is over. This would effectively negate this argument by my opponent. Pro goes on to bring up these numbers, but he is insinuating that these politicians would not go and do anything in Congress. This is unlikely as many events happen across this nation that would require action and these politicians would have no choice, but to do something about it.
Contention 3: The Benefits of Expierienced Congressmen.
My opponent argues that of a creation of lack of expierence, but we do have to see here that with weak term limits, as I have brought up in my Round 2 argument, actually helps this case. It gets more politicians involved and many can opt to run again after a time limit. After this, these politicians can choose to run again for re-election of their seat or go for another one. This would help increase the quantity of expierenced politicians out there and they would make the political process better as with more expierenced poltiicans, they would be able to get more laws across that otherwise may not have occured. People can then elect to run again where they would have more expierence than the other politicians providing senior leadership.
When we look at the free market, we can see that this favors my case. When there a a restricted supply, which occurs in the status quo, then we see the value of these politicians become inflated, higher than their actual value. On the other hand, if we increase supply, we can see that the value would fall, but we would have a great deal of more politicans. The market, for a short period of time be under equilibrium, while in the status quo it's above, the market, in this case the voters, would root out the ineffective and bad politicians as they would have more time to analyze them with weak term limits if they choose to run again, or they would allow them back in if they did a great job and prevent new ones from entering the field.
My opponent gives a sports analogy, but this isn't entirely true. Many teams may keep some players for a few years before changing them out for new ones while buidling around centerpiece players. With Weak Term limits, this would be the case as more successful polticians would stay around while bad ones are rooted out and replaced with new ones.
Thomas Jefferson himself had once said, "Bodies of men, as well as individuals, are subseptable to the spirit of tryanny." 
Studies have shown that the longer that a politician stays in office that the greater amount that they will end up supporting increased government spending and the need for the increased size in government . More and more a politician stays we can see that they simply listen to the lobbist in order to get campaign finance for their next election. When they are limited with Weak Term limits, they are less likely to do so since they don't have to worry about re-election all that much, but instead they would work to actually represent their own distrints .
2. ( http://www.opensecrets.org...)
4. ( https://sites.google.com...)
5. ( http://object.cato.org...)
I would like to thank lannan for this debate.
I. Subversion of the Democratic Process
This leads to an interesting question – in a democracy, should the people be allowed to vote to weaken democracy itself? It also leads to the more relevant question of, “Is it democratic for the people to vote to weaken democracy itself?” The former question is one for another debate, but the latter question is very much important in the given context. As I said in my round three argument, the U.S. is a representative democracy, not a direct democracy, meaning that, in the U.S., just because the majority of people support a specific bill doesn’t mean that bill is going to be enacted and it doesn’t mean that it is against the democratic process (at least in the context of the U.S.) to not enact such a bill.
If the majority of people really wanted an incumbent to be voted out of office, it would be within their power to do so. Enacting congressional term limits to force out both popular and unpopular incumbents would be partially counterproductive considering that the voters are more than capable of voting out the unpopular incumbents alone without sacrificing the popular ones as well. In a true democracy, it should only be within the people’s ability to limit the time politicians should remain in office.
II. Lame Duck Terms
But as I’ve explained many times in many previous arguments, and in my first point above, it is within the people’s ability to remove someone from office they dislike. If the majority of people really didn’t support Pat Roberts because of his stance on the farm bill, they would have voted him out in the election that followed. Even though he voted against the farm bill that the majority of people supported, the people must have seen him as a better choice than his competitor, most likely due to some other popular bills that he did enact.
While my opponent makes a good point on using weak term limits to get around this, there is one problem. Say a congressman is forced out due to weak term limits, and in his last term, he was a lame duck who didn’t speak for the will of the people he represented. If he ran again in 10 or 15 years, people may forget his lame duck term and be swayed by his rhetoric, thus potentially leading to multiple lame duck terms. And no, during lame duck terms, congressmen don’t have to listen to the people they represent because they don’t have to worry about being reelected. There is nothing forcing him to vote one way save his personal interests.
III. The Benefits of Experienced Congressmen
Again, my opponent makes a good point on using weak term limits to get around this, and again, there is one problem. Congressmen, in a government without term limits have, on average, more experience, and more current experience, than even congressmen in a government with just weak term limits. This is because, with weak term limits, congressmen still have to spend a lot of time off Capitol Hill doing other non-political related things, and because the political climate can change dramatically in the eight years (or any other number) that a congressmen is gone, and this could set them back in re-entering Congress. Without weak term limits, congressmen can, if still popular of course, spend as much time as necessary on Capitol Hill, and can remain up-to-date on all of the newest issues facing Congress.
My opponent’s analogy to the free market is flawed. While weak term limits would obviously get a larger number of people time in Congress, this doesn’t necessarily mean that, in a government with weak term limits, congressmen would be more effective or good than in a government without term limits. In fact, it’d be more likely to run the opposite of what my opponent says. In both systems, ineffective and bad congressmen can be forced out of office, but in the system without term limits, the effective and good congressmen don’t have to be forced out of office, just the ineffective and bad ones. Thus, in a system without term limits, the ineffective and bad congressmen can still be forced out, but you’d have fewer potentially ineffective or bad congressmen coming in.
Similarly, my opponent’s sports analogy is flawed. Unlike in sports, congress shouldn’t be composed of a core of “centerpiece” congressmen with a bunch of inexperienced, new congressmen joining them. It would be better if congress could be composed of as many experienced congressmen as possible, because experienced congressmen legislate better.
Take for example, healthcare. States without term limits have a higher healthcare reliability score than do states with term limits. "Overall, the average [Best States for your Health] ranking for the fifteen states with term limits is 31st in all three rankings. The average ranking for the 35 states without term limits is 23rd. The reason term limits have such a significant effect on the health of a state’s population may be because term-limited politicians don’t have the time to come up to speed on complex health issues."
First off, on my opponent’s very last point, I question the credibility of his claim, given that its only evidence is from the Cato institute, a libertarian think tank, and that the claim is clearly political in nature. In addition, just because more experienced congressmen support increased government spending and larger government doesn’t necessarily mean that this is because of lobbyists. Lobbyists come in all political affiliations, and there’s no reason that this political shift should be due to them. Also, in a system of weak term limits, congressmen still have to worry about re-election if they want to build a political career. Finally, I’ve shown previously how it is the inexperienced congressmen that are the most susceptible to lobbyists.
I’ve shown how term limits are undemocratic, lead to more lame duck terms, cause congressmen to be, on average, less experienced, which negatively affects their ability to legislate properly and makes them more susceptible to lobbyists. Weak term limits, while solving these problems slightly compared to strong term limits, still doesn’t solve them as well as having no term limits whatsoever.
I thank my opponent for this great debate and wish him luck in the voting period.
Contention 1: Popularity for Term Limits
My opponent's point here is absurded. If we look at my opponent's first round we can see that he argued that the people people elect their officials who must do the will of the people. The will of the people right now is a support of the Term Limits, which, under the very democracy which we are founded. It is the Congressmen and women to go out and pass a Term Limits Amendments as it is the will of the people. My opponent brings up how Direct Democracy leads to NAZIsm, but this is just Godwin's Law and must be discarded as my opponent is simply picking small data points. I could easily turn around and argue how a majority of Americans wanted Slavery abolitionished, World War II, or a long list of others good and positive things that have come out of the popularity of the American public. My opponent's own case works for me in this case.
My opponent brings up the argument of if people want term limits then why do we continue to elected vetern Congressmen. The answer is quite simple and I brought this up in an earlier round where the incumbent has the advantage. No matter what we do, the incumbent will, most of the time, get elected due to massive funding advantage and name recognition. Even if they are a terrible Politician, they can and will still be re-elected. This isn't the people, this is the unfairness that is existance.
Contention 2: Congressional Monopoly
My opponent brings up the lobbyist argument, but we can still see that with term limits, this won't be the case as many times when people are seeking re-election then run to the lobbyists to get legislation pushed. This would be a huge thing we have to observe as it would help our politicial system, not destroy it. We have to do remember that my opponent hasn't addressed weak term limits which actually curtails a great deal of his own arguments here as people will be able to run again later on if they please, but with the new amount of people in the political market, there will be a greater amount of politicians out there with different skill levels and then the people can actually observe and analyze their own choices to help aid their nation. This strengthens the political process.
Upsets do happen and I haven't declined nor denied this fact. There are many events in US history that this occurs when we see major events in the political or economic scale. Though we still have to extend across my argument here as this is the case for the House, the Senate, which my opponent was attacking, had a lowest at 60%  and highest at 95% . Even though that's the case, we can see in 2008, the House re-election was 90% and the Senate was 85%. 2010 had the House re-election rate of 85% to the Senates 86%. Though like my opponent said, upsets occur, the fact is, even in these times of trouble, the re-election rate is still pretty high.
Being a Senior member doesn't mean anything here, we can see that a newer politician can do just as well by being in a committee where they are highly skilled versus one where they are put in a committee where they are not as well skilled nor like. My opponent counter's by having it be random, but we have to see that people should go where people are most skilled at or care most about. My opponent's purposed solution makes things worse as people will be put into areas where they are neither well skill nor care about. This would decrease activity and harm our political process.
We still have to observe that many of my opponent's disagreements here can be fixed with weak term limits where they can be re-elected after a set time period, but have to stop after a set term limt. This is an issue that my opponent has yet to address and this is the key issue in this debate as many of Pro's own argumens can be solved by this. My opponent keeps bringing up how people can boot out unwanted politicians, but like how I explained before, the incumbents have an unfair advantage that makes it impossible for them to lose.
With that I thank you and please vote Con!
1. ( http://tinyurl.com...)