Term limits would specify the number of years an individual could serve in the House or the Senate but would require an amendment to the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. The founders believed term limits would eliminate the danger of creating an inconvenient aristocracy.
An ideology is the body or doctrine that guides individuals, social movements, institutions or groups that have formed a political party and put it into operation. The challenge we face is to decide which of these options, term limits or modified ideologies, will offer the country the best opportunity to change the angry political atmosphere that now exists into a political atmosphere that will result in a peaceful collaboration effort that will benefit the country.
The bitter war between the Republican and Democratic ideologies rages on and the call for term limits is getting louder. Each night the respective spin doctors take the stories of the events that happened that day and twist them to support their respective ideologies.
The following morning each of the communication outlets (network news, cable news, radio news, newspapers, pod casts, internet platforms, and social media networks) are given a version that they are to present to the public. Each spin of the story supports the ideology they support. Its up to each of us to decide who is telling the truth.
That’s when our personal bias kicks in. We will likely believe the version that complies with our personal beliefs.
Will term limits work?
There is only one federal political office with a term limit – president of the United States. From George Washington until Franklin D. Roosevelt, no president served more than one or two terms. FDR served four terms. Two years after FDR’s death, Congress decided that a term limit was necessary to keep abuse of power in check.
That’s when the 22nd Amendment was passed limiting the office to two four-year terms. Do you believe that term limit eliminated the abuse of power? A review of the last three or four presidents, especially the present president will answer that question. Will term limits minimize the impact, positive or negative, ideologies have on the political turmoil that exists?
During the history of the House and Senate, seniority became the benchmark of raw political power. I’ll bet you can remember hearing the campaign speeches “re-elect me and I’ll have the power to do great things for this district/state.”
Here are two examples we are familiar with. Jack Murtha, a Democrat, and Bud Shuster, a Republican. Murtha served for 36 years and Shuster for 26 years. Murtha was chairman of the House Defense Appropriations Sub-Committee and Shuster was chairman of the House Transportation Committee. Would the defense business in Cambria County or the extensive highway network in Blair County exist if term limits had been in place?
The Republican ideology is American conservatism.
Lower taxes, free market capitalism, a strong national defense, gun rights, deregulation, capital punishment, restrictions on unions, controlled immigration and opposition to abortion.
The Democratic ideology is socialist-based liberalism, left wing populism, progressivism, higher taxes, government control of manufacturing and product distribution, a limited national defense, gun control, open borders, defunding law enforcement and government financed late term abortion.
Which of these ideologies do you wish you could change or modify? If the one you select for modification is modified do you believe it will lessen the strong political turmoil that we face each and every day?
Or should we continue to fight for term limits?
James M. Edwards Sr. is a retired president and CEO of WJAC Inc. and the Johnstown Chiefs, and general manager of WJAC-TV.