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Thread: Congressional term limits

  1. #121
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    Re: Congressional term limits

    Quote Originally Posted by The Mark View Post
    As I understand it, there is supposed to be a 3-way balance of power between the Presidency, Congress, and the Court system.
    Sure (though not necessarily equal power). Over the years, the President has gained enormous power at the expense of Congress.

  2. #122
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    Re: Congressional term limits

    Quote Originally Posted by misterman View Post
    Nice try. But freedom of speech limits the power of the government, not the people.
    Sure, but it doesn't change the fact that you're substituting your judgment (i.e. freedom of speech is good) for the voters' judgment (i.e. freedom of speech is bad) in our little hypothetical example. That's anti-democratic, but most of us don't lose much sleep over it. So I question why you would accuse me of being anti-democratic for wanting to substitute my judgment (i.e. term limits are good) for the voters' judgment (i.e. we like Incumbency Bob).

    I'm hard-pressed to find any meaningful distinction there in terms of ignoring the voters' choice, except that you like freedom of speech and you don't like term limits.

    Quote Originally Posted by misterman
    Oh. My. God.

    They couldn't figure out how to vote him out of office? They were too stupid and confused to simply push the button for his opponent instead? Did you really just say that?
    Yep. When Congress has a 95% incumbency rate and a 25% approval rate, something is wrong with the system.
    Last edited by Kandahar; 01-28-10 at 10:02 PM.
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  3. #123
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    Re: Congressional term limits

    Quote Originally Posted by misterman View Post
    Sure (though not necessarily equal power). Over the years, the President has gained enormous power at the expense of Congress.
    Perhaps better to say there is supposed to be a 3-way "struggle" for power between the Presidency, Congress, and the Court system?
    Education.

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  4. #124
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    Re: Congressional term limits

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    Sure, but it doesn't change the fact that you're substituting your judgment (i.e. freedom of speech is good) for the voters' judgment (i.e. freedom of speech is bad) in our little hypothetical example.
    That's not the voter's judgement, it's the government's. And it results in an increase in the power and rights of the people, not a decrease.

    That's anti-democratic, but most of us don't lose much sleep over it. So I question why you would accuse me of being anti-democratic for wanting to substitute my judgment (i.e. term limits are good) for the voters' judgment (i.e. we like Incumbency Bob).
    Fine, I won't call it anti-democratic. I'll call it taking away part of the rights of voters.

    I'm hard-pressed to find any meaningful distinction there in terms of ignoring the voters' choice, except that you like freedom of speech and you don't like term limits.
    See above. It's pretty clear.

    Yep. When Congress has a 95% incumbency rate and a 25% approval rate, something is wrong with the system.
    As someone noted above, everyone loves their congressman and hates everyone else's. Incumbency rate is determined by voters in each district; while approval rate is about the whole Congress.

  5. #125
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    Re: Congressional term limits

    Quote Originally Posted by misterman View Post
    As someone noted above, everyone loves their congressman and hates everyone else's. Incumbency rate is determined by voters in each district; while approval rate is about the whole Congress.
    And who makes laws, one specific Congressman, or all of Congress?

    (The latter)

  6. #126
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    Re: Congressional term limits

    Quote Originally Posted by misterman View Post
    That's not the voter's judgement, it's the government's. And it results in an increase in the power and rights of the people, not a decrease.
    So? Who are you to say that an increase in the power/rights of the people is inherently a good thing, if they want to elect someone who promises the exact opposite? Is it written down in a document somewhere? Perhaps the same one I'm seeking to amend with my term limits proposal?

    Quote Originally Posted by misterman
    Fine, I won't call it anti-democratic. I'll call it taking away part of the rights of voters.
    Potato, po-tah-to. Telling a democratically-elected president he can't censor the press is taking away part of the rights of voters as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by misterman
    As someone noted above, everyone loves their congressman and hates everyone else's. Incumbency rate is determined by voters in each district; while approval rate is about the whole Congress.
    That's one of the problems, and is why we need to shake up Congress more often. If there was some new blood in Congress every now and then, perhaps the institution would not be so perennially unpopular.
    Last edited by Kandahar; 01-28-10 at 10:15 PM.
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  7. #127
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    Re: Congressional term limits

    My brother uses the main argument I've been using, but puts it in an economic context.

    Sophistpundit: The Case for Congressional Term Limits

    Some Economic Analysis

    When I complain about senators that have been in office for longer than I have been alive, a typical response is that if people did not like that senator, they wouldn't vote for him.

    Of course the problem with this is that even though I may not like a particular senator or congressman, it does not mean that I will happen to be one of his constituents. Congress is composed by people who make national decisions but are only held accountable locally. What is in the interest of the people in his district may not be in the interest of the people in my district. In the jargon of economics, any influence that another state or district imposes on the nation is an externality that is imposed on the rest of the nation.

    Now, I think it shouldn't be too controversial to say that those who have been in congress longer have more influence than those who have not. They have made more connections, have more experience playing the game on the Hill, and so on. If this is so, then every state and congressional district has an incentive to keep the same people in (all other things being equal) year after year, since they risk their representative losing sway if they replace him.

    To the extent that this is true, competition between states for influence in national policy likely reduces the competition that representatives actually face for their position in their locality, once they are through the door.

    I think we would all be better off if we put a cap on the national-level competition. Any cap would be better than none at all; a three or four term limit cap in the senate would still involve less time in office than many senators have enjoyed. Since everyone would be unable to spend more than a certain amount of time in office, there would be more local level competition for representation once a particular member of congress was on their last allowed term.


    An Ethical Afterthought

    I think there is something inherently immoral about the professional politician. From the standpoint of tradition, it is certainly not what the founding fathers wanted. George Washington stepped down after two terms voluntarily; with his popularity he could have remained and become much more powerful than he chose to be. When Thomas Jefferson did the same, they set the political expectations in a way that made it very difficult for anyone to break the pattern. They were great men; few after have shown similar restraint.

    People should have their careers, their passions, and their families. If they choose to serve public office, then it should be only as a small interruption in the course of their lives--they should earn it based on the accomplishments and acclaim they have gained elsewhere.

    If this strikes the reader as too idealistic, I will understand. Morality should always be dealt with in ideals; it doesn't mean that those who fall short of perfection are to be deplored. Even Washington and Jefferson had their faults and their ambitions, but they serve as great moral examples that all of the ambitious should aspire to.

    It may be that the men who are in office are those who have been selected by the incentives and pressures inherent in the system; that those who would step down as Washington would do and are quickly replaced by those who won't. If so, then it seems reason enough to consider term limits, in the hopes of drawing in higher caliber characters, or at least limiting the time that lesser characters are able to make consequential decisions.

  8. #128
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    Re: Congressional term limits

    Quote Originally Posted by Dav View Post
    And who makes laws, one specific Congressman, or all of Congress?

    (The latter)
    Yes, precisely.

  9. #129
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    Re: Congressional term limits

    Quote Originally Posted by Dav View Post
    Of course the problem with this is that even though I may not like a particular senator or congressman, it does not mean that I will happen to be one of his constituents.
    Yes, it is a problem when you want to pick someone else's representative!

    The arrogance surrounding this issue is amazing sometimes.

  10. #130
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    Re: Congressional term limits

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    So? Who are you to say that an increase in the power/rights of the people is inherently a good thing, if they want to elect someone who promises the exact opposite? Is it written down in a document somewhere?
    Yes - the Declaration of Independence. Look up "inalienable rights."

    Potato, po-tah-to. Telling a democratically-elected president he can't censor the press is taking away part of the rights of voters as well.
    Well, no, it's not.

    That's one of the problems, and is why we need to shake up Congress more often. If there was some new blood in Congress every now and then, perhaps the institution would not be so perennially unpopular.
    Perhaps. Now all you have to do is go convince the voters of that. (Using your inalienable right to freedom of speech by the way).

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