Term limits for President enacted to prevent tyrannical rule, why not for Congress
Term limits for the Presidency is a concept that has been controversial since the framing of the Constitution. The position of President had not existed under the Articles of Confederation, with Congress instead wielding both legislative and executive powers. The British Monarchy was not an example the framers wanted to follow since our country was founded as a result of revolution from Great Britain.
Alexander Hamilton and James Madison supported a lifetime appointment to the office of President decided by Congress, not the people. That would have made the presidency what Virginia’s George Mason called an “elective monarchy,” however, and when this was put to a vote it failed by only six votes to four.
George Washington set the precedent to retire after serving two terms and this precedent was upheld with every following President until FDR. Roosevelt The crisis of the second world war prompted Roosevelt to run for a third term. Then a fourth. When the war was over concern rose over tyrannical rule and the twenty-second amendment was enacted to limit the term of President to two terms.
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The question arises why is Congress not also limited to two terms? If term limits for the President are a good thing why not for Congress. Is the legislative branch not also susceptible to tyranny and arrogance that could arise from an unlimited term of office?
Below are the current highest years of service in Congress. Many more are 20 plus years well beyond two terms in office.
Patrick Leahy (D) Vermont 42 years
Orin Hatch ® Utah 40 years
Chuck Grassley(R) Iowa 36 years
Mitch McConnell ® Kentucky 32 Years
Richard Shelby ® Alabama 30 years
John McCain ® Arizona 30 years
John Conyers (D) Michigan since resigned in disgrace 52 years
Jim Sensenbrenner ® Wisconsin 38 years
Hal Rodgers (R) Kentucky 36 years
Steny Hoyer (D) Maryland 36 years
Sandy Levin (D) Michigan 34 years
Peter J Visclosky (D) Indiana 32 years
What exactly have John Conyers and Sandy Levin done for the state of Michigan in 52 and 34 years. Largely they are re-elected to bring home the pork or to provide for the black community. But what has Conyers done for Detroit? In places Detroit resembles Baghdad or some third world country.
The subject of term limits comes up every once in a while. Most recently President Trump promised to get term limits in his first 100 days in office. But who votes on term limits? Congress, and Congress is not going to give up it’s power. As Lord Acton remark in a letter to an Anglican bishop. “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men,…”