Term Limits

Washington Should Be More Concerned About the Next Generation Than the Next Election

Sen. David Perdue

October 26, 2016

The Framers never meant elected office to be a career, nor was it meant to be a vessel for the centralization and maintenance of federal power.

Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., who has vowed to serve only two terms, says career politicians have focused more on advancing their own careers than helping the people they were elected to serve. (Photo: Gage Skidmore /Zuma Press/Newscom)

    It’s no secret that Americans are fed up with Washington’s lack of results. Less than 20 percent of respondents in a recent Gallup survey said they trust the federal government to do its job.

You know what, they’re right.

Somebody has to be responsible for the mess in Washington. For too long, career politicians have focused more on advancing their own careers than helping the people they were elected to serve. The Washington bubble and an unending cycle of gridlock stand in the way of real results at a time when our country is facing both a national debt crisis and a global security crisis.

Now, more than ever, we should usher in the return of the citizen legislator. It is finally time that we impose term limits on members of Congress.

Politicians should go to Washington, do their best, and then come home to live under the laws they’ve passed. It’s just that simple. Our Founding Fathers never imagined the rise of the career politician. They envisioned citizen legislators. Elected office was never meant to be a career, nor was it meant to be a vessel for the centralization and maintenance of federal power.

Yet right now, 60 members of the U.S. Senate have held elected office for more than 20 years and 36 have held office for more than 30 years.

The broken seniority system in Congress rewards years in power, not results produced. Because of that, Washington has no sense of urgency or focus on results. Too little is being done to deal with our national debt, restore our standing in the world, and roll back the regulations crippling our free enterprise system.

    When I ran for the U.S. Senate in 2014, I promised Georgians I would fight to pass term limits for members of Congress. Immediately after being sworn in last year, I co-sponsored a constitutional amendment doing just that: two six-year terms in the Senate and six two-year terms in the House. I personally have pledged to serve no more than two terms in the U.S. Senate.

For too long, career politicians have focused more on advancing their own careers than helping the people they were elected to serve.

    Imagine citizen legislators coming to Washington — from all walks of life — fighting for the priorities that truly represent the interests of folks back home. They would bring fresh ideas and a new sense of urgency to finally begin to deal with the crises jeopardizing our country’s future.

    Citizen legislators could work outside the political establishment to bring a fresh perspective to how burdensome government policies negatively affect people’s everyday lives.

They could apply their practical experience to solving our nation’s toughest problems, and because they would only serve a short time, citizen legislators could approach solving problems with a sense of urgency instead of kicking the can down the road for the sake of political security.

Support for term limits is bipartisan. Another Gallup survey showed that 75 percent of voters — Republicans and Democrats alike — back legislation limiting the time people can serve at the highest levels of government. Given the polarizing climate crippling Washington today, there is something to be said about an idea that overwhelmingly unites both parties.

Enacting term limits will be an uphill battle because those currently in power thrive on the status quo. There is growing support in Congress, however, for term limits and many members on both sides are committed to going forward, no matter how long it takes.

Career politicians created this moment of crisis America faces today. They aren’t the ones who are going to solve it.

Term limits will help break this vicious cycle of gridlock that is stopping Congress from getting things done. It’s time to finally make sure Washington is more concerned about the next generation than the next election.