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  • Writer's pictureKim McGahey

Coastal Common Sense 2024

What seems to be perpetual chaos and terminal inactivity in the United States Congress could easily be remedied. By turning the attention of both houses of Congress back to we the people instead of they the government, many of our political, economic and social problems could be resolved. The cure for congressional paralysis is term limits for all members of Congress. 

The Founders of our great country wisely created a government to represent the people with a system of checks and balances. Each of the three branches of government, the Executive, the Legislative and the Judicial, were designed to limit the power of the other branches so that no single branch could replicate the tyranny of the King of England. 

The ingenious system of separation of powers that the Founders devised most importantly secured the liberties and freedoms to the people that were guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. Having studied all the great civilizations in human history, the Founders knew that only a government based on decentralized power could protect those God-given rights. Thus, in 1789 the U.S. Constitution was written to outline how the checks and balances under separation of powers would shield the people from a tyrannical government. 

That system has worked well for 247 years, but the Founders knew that we are not governed by angels and human nature would eventually gravitate towards a power structure that would limit the freedoms of the people and expand the control of the state. That's where we are today. 

So, the Founders in their infinite wisdom included an escape clause in the Constitution that allowed that historic document to be amended. Article Five of the Constitution outlines two ways that amendments to the Constitution can be made. The first is through a vote of Congress, and the second is through a vote of the state legislatures referred to as a Convention of States. Since Congress would never vote to limit their own power, door number 2 is our only choice. 

Members of the House of Representatives are now elected for 2 year terms and members of the Senate for 6 year terms. These short windows demand that our elected representatives spend most of their time on their re-election campaigns rather than on passing laws in the best interests of the country. They become pre-occupied with making decisions based on retaining their own personal power positions at the expense of the greater good. 

An amendment to the Constitution for term limits for all members of Congress under Article Five would eliminate their focus on themselves and their re-election and return their energies to what's best for the country. Knowing that the burden of re-election was off their shoulders, and they are only there for a limited time, members of Congress could then vote for solutions to the country's problems without regard to their own political futures. 

Here's how it works under Article Five: 34 state legislatures submit applications and delegates for a Convention of States to vote on the single issue of term limits for all members of Congress. The delegates draft language for a proposed term limits amendment. Each state gets one vote. When 38 state legislatures ratify the term limits amendment it then becomes part of the Constitution - as has been done 27 times before with other amendments. Right now, 19 states have approved such an amendment. 

The Term Limits Amendment would designate the length of terms for each house of Congress. E.g., the House of Representatives could be limited to two terms of four years each and the Senate could be limited to two terms of six years each. That way, our representatives are only in power for a short amount of time instead of 47 stagnant years like Joe Biden. 

There is more information on this Convention of States at It's the cure for a selfish, dysfunctional federal government like ours. 


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