Are Term Limits Needed?

Johnny-on-the-Spot … by John Foster

We’re closing in on the midterm election.

“Election” is the formal process of electing a person for public office or of accepting or rejecting a political proposition by voting.

The origins of elections in the contemporary world lie in the “gradual emergence of representative governments in Europe and North America” beginning in the 17th century.

As we approach the much-ballyhooed mid-term elections, the media and political pundits are raging over what’s going to happen.

There’s considerable speculation as to what will have the greatest impact on the balloting.

Will it be the economy, inflation, abortion, immigration, crime rates, guns, drugs, climate issues, threats to democracy?

All the above?

None of the above?

Unlike most recent elections, there were issues that both major political parties talked about.

This one is a bit different.

Both parties are attempting to push different talking points.

I’ve experienced a number of different elections since I first registered to vote more than 50 years ago.

I know.

That makes me an old man.

But 76% of voters in 2020 were 65 t0 74.

Meanwhile, just 51% of the voters were aged 18 to 24.

Slightly more women than men actually voted.

Thank your 19th Amendment.

There are still more “Americans” than “registered to vote Americans” and that confuses me.

In the last Presidential election, about one-third of voter-eligible Americans didn’t cast a ballot.

So, two-thirds of us are making the decisions and we are obviously not unanimous in our choices.

Researchers say our emotions, political socialization, tolerance of diversity of political views and the media play roles in how we vote, along with partisan loyalty, issues and “candidates characteristics”.

We’re heard, “Drain the swamp and vote the bums out” over the years.

People scream “Term limits!” when it comes to Washington, D.C.

Folks will point to high profile office-holders like 82 year old House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or Senate Minority leader, 80 year old Mitch McConnell.

Pelosi has been in office since 1987; Mc Connell since 1984.

But statistics would show they are in the minority.

Pew Research shows that when the current Congress convened in 2021, 72% of the House members and 65% of the Senators were new since 2009.

I’ve never been one to call for term limits because we get to vote for House races every two years and Senate races every 6 years.

Based on the numbers, that appears to be working.

What’s funny is when you ask some voters, the “bum” they always want voted out is the other guy’s bum.

Their “guy” is fine.

While name recognition, easier access to campaign finances and government resources, like “franking privileges” seem to favor incumbents, the fact of the matter might show otherwise.

Throw in a little gerrymandering and political redistricting due to the census and we get old faces in new places and new faces in old places.

So, where am I going with all this?

No matter your political affiliation or stand on the issues that motivate you or what the pollsters say, you need to vote.

By not voting, you surrender your opportunity to someone else to guide your future.

There’s no guarantee than your candidate or issues will be approved but, by not voting, you surrender that opportunity to someone else.

Just to remind you, Thomas Jefferson was elected President by 1 vote in the House after an Electoral College tie in 1800.

Twenty-four years later, Andrew Jackson won the popular vote but lost by a single vote in the House of Representatives after another Electoral College deadlock.

In 1960, had just 4,500 Illinois voters and 28,000 Texas voters either stayed home or switched their votes, Richard Nixon would have had enough Electoral College votes to keep JFK from becoming President.

In 1962, governorships in Maine, Rhode Island and North Dakota were elected by an average of one vote per precinct.

In 1989, a Lansing, Michigan school district tax question ended in a dead-even tie following a recount and that meant the system had reduce its’ budget by $2.6 million.

Voting doesn’t guarantee “your guy’ will win but if enough people say, “Ah, who cares?” that will make a difference.

A big one.

They key then is to put on our big boy and girl pants after voting and accept the decision and try to change the current trajectory we seem to be in.

That’s the real challenge.

Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu told us, “If you do not change your direction, you may end up where you are headed.”

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