The Answer: Term Limits

Bill Neinast

Is it just overlooked,  or is it completely forgotten?  The “it” in this discussion is the Constitution of the United States of America.

A little more than two short centuries ago, some men with unbelievable foresight established a new form of governance.  No longer would individuals be ruled by the crown where power over life and death was passed on by royal family inheritance.

The new government was to be of the people, by the people, and for the people.  Power was divided among three separate but equal departments.  Laws were to be written by the legislative branch made up“of” the people, enforced by the President elected “by” the people, and interpreted by the judicial branch “for” the people.

That concept worked excellently for a while because the Congress was not in session all year long.  Members of the House of Representatives were back home, living among the people who had elected him to represent them in Congress.  Senators also were back home among the state legislators who had selected them to represent their state.

Somewhere along the line, even after travel between home and Washington, D.C., became cheaper and faster, the representatives and senators began spending more time in the nation’s capitol than with their constituents.  

Their main contacts then became the individuals with the largest pocketbooks, regardless of whether they were from back home or elsewhere.

The largest deviation from the Constitution, however, is the Executive Branch.   As originally conceived, the President was to be the law enforcer, not the law maker.  Unfortunately, presidents of both parties began issuing Executive Orders by the bushel.  Most of those have the same effect as laws passed by congress and some even modify or nullify legislation.

Worse than the Executive Orders for making law, however, are the reams and reams of regulations issued on a regular basis.  These regulations also have the force and effect of legislative law on the activities being controlled.

Currently there is a feeble attempt to curtail this lawmaking by the Executive Branch.  President Trump has directed for every new regulation coming out of his administration, two old ones have to be repealed.  

That is roughly equivalent to removing one stone from an Egyptian pyramid.  But at least it is a start.

The judicial system, the for the people branch, is the only one that has stayed on the path laid out for in the Constitution.  Its interpretation of a law might change the intended effect, but it is not making law in doing so.

Some are undoubtedly jumping up and down now with shouts of “Roe vs. Wade made law.”  That, however, is not true.  In that case, the Supreme Court merely said that a law banning abortion is unconstitutional.

Finally, the 10th Amendment is definitely forgotten by all three branches.  This is the Amendment intended to keep most political power local, right with the people it is affecting.  Under that provision, all power not bestowed on the federal government by the Constitution is reserved to the states.

If that basic law is to be followed, how can Congress pass laws concerning the operation of the Sheriffs’s Department of Washington County?   How can there be an Education Department dictating procedures for the school district in Brenham, Texas?

So here’s the perspective.

This country began with a beautiful form of freedom under a government of, by, and for the people.  Unfortunately, the “of” part of the equation has fallen away.  Representatives and senators spend very little time back home with their people.  Washington, D.C. has become their permanent home.

This situation, however, is not hopeless.  We can return to the system envisaged by the founders with two amendments of the Constitution.  One would be to limit the terms of Congress members to ten years and one would limit the terms of Congress to six months every two years, ala the state o Texas.

Let’s try it.



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