From GOP USA
In an age where politicians head to Washington as “citizen legislators” only to become transformed into career Beltway insiders, one candidate is putting his money where his mouth is regarding term limits.
Following the 1994 elections, congressional Republicans held true to their promise in the Contract with America to bring term limits up for a vote and many pledged to follow their own, self-imposed term limits. Some kept their pledges, others did not. But in North Carolina, congressional candidate Will Breazeale has made a $250,000 promise to the voters. In an age where so many people are frustrated with Washington politicians, maybe this is a move that could catch on.
As noted in a report on Carolina Journal Online, Breazeale “became the first candidate in the nation to take a bonded term limits pledge, agreeing to donate $250,000 of his own assets to a private charity if, after being elected, he doesn’t limit himself to three terms in office.”
“I see [bonded term limits] bringing about the largest power shift in this country since we became a country,” Breazeale in a telephone interview shortly after the press conference. “This will be the standard one day. If you don’t put up personal net worth, then you will not be elected.”
Breazeale partnered with the Alliance for Bonded Term Limits, a national nonpartisan group, to sign the pledge. Alliance president and board chairman John Skvarla told Carolina Journal that bonded term limits are about accountability.
According to the Alliance for Bonded Term Limits web site, the organization “seeks to explore and develop a process under which candidates for public office can assure constituents that they will work diligently in the public interest instead of building long careers rife with self-interest.”
This country does not need a Constitutional Amendment or a Federal Law to bring fresh ideas to Washington; we need dedicated citizens who will travel to Congress with a real commitment to return home after a finite time in office. Our nation needs to return to the citizen legislatures expected by our Founders and retire the career politicians and their patrician lifestyles.
As it stands now, only the president of the United States is constitutionally term-limited. Efforts by states to set term limits for federal office holders (representatives and senators) have run into a brick wall. The Supreme Court ruled in U.S. Term Limits v. Thornton that “only the U.S. Constitution could impose restrictions on congressional hopefuls.” WiseGeek.com notes that following the 1994 elections, Republicans “brought a constitutional amendment to the House floor. It limited members of the Senate to two six-year terms and members of the House to six two-year terms. Because the Republicans held 230 seats in the House, they were able to get a simple majority. However, constitutional amendments require a two-thirds majority, or 290 votes, and the votes to restrict term limits in Congress fell short of that number.”
For me, the best way to ensure term limits is to have an educated electorate. If a candidate becomes corrupt or loses touch with his or her constituents, the voters in that state or district can and should vote for someone else. However, this seldom occurs. Incumbency is powerful. Once elected, an officer holder has a much larger pool of resources to tap. In additions, voters are often lazy! They don’t take time to research, and they often don’t understand the issues. Thus, the person in power stays in power.
When voters don’t take the time to learn about the candidates, they will fall for anything. Charm, wit, or persona trump knowledge, experience, and political philosophy. Just look at these voters from the last election:
Case in point for an educated electorate!
So, outside of educated voters… voters who will look through the media filter, we also need to return to the concept of citizen legislators. We need office holders who care more about the people they represent than the office they hold. Is term limits the key? Is this the time to rally the country to support an amendment to the Constitution? Or perhaps, is it time to have candidates put their money where their mouth is and pledge to limit their own terms?
North Carolina candidate for Congress Will Breazeale may be tapping into the pulse of America at just the right time. Accountability and responsibility are timeless qualities. It would be nice if they were associated more often with our elected officials. Time for term limits? What do you think?