The idea of term limits is a good hearted attempt to fix things in Washington. Many, many people who I hold in the highest esteem and honor are for term limits. I understand the intent but I can’t find any place where term limits have ever fixed anything. The real organizations that hold the power are still there no matter who they appoint to wield it. And as long as the electorate remains ignorant of the true functions of the federal government there is no chance of redemption.
There are dozens of examples I could name where term limits have given us a worse president than we had—like the loss of Reagan to term limits—but those arguments tend to rely on hypothetical alternate realities rather than verifiable facts. Since I can’t verify that in some alternate reality Spock has a beard, I choose to set the arguments based on alternate realities aside. For verifiable facts there are plenty of places we could go to do our research. Many states have term limits for governors and their own legislators. Many cities have term limits on their mayors and city councils. Detroit has term limits. How’s that working? Every several years they vote for a new Democrat to replace the old one and every several years they sink further into the mud. We have term limits on the president and there can be no denying that the country is also sinking into the mud. After all, it may be fact that we have Obama because his predecessor was term limited out of office.
The American people, in this highly colorful analogy, have a very powerful tiger chewing at their throats. The Founding Fathers very emphatically did not intend to create a tiger who wields the power of big government. So how do we turn the tiger back into the government that was designed for us?
As I previously mentioned, “The Constitution was amended to give undue power to the federal government that the Founders never intended them to have.” To set up my support of this supposition I quote Thomas Jefferson, “Our country is too large to have all its affairs directed by a single government. Public servants at such a distance, and from under the eye of their constituents, must, from the circumstance of distance, be unable to administer and overlook all the details necessary for the good government of the citizens; and the same circumstance, by rendering detection impossible to their constituents, will invite public agents to corruption, plunder and waste.” Now I ask the reader, does that last part sound at all familiar to you?
Continuing with President Jefferson’s line of thought he also gave us the solution, "I believe the States can best govern our home concerns, and the General Government our foreign ones." The thing is that this concept of federal power being directed primarily outward and State power handling domestic issues is already included in the Constitution.
So precisely where did we go wrong? When did the power that was supposed to be divided between the federal government, the States and the People, as documented in the Constitution, as clearly intended by the Founding Fathers, become centralized so that the federal government now rules over the States and the People? Again I say, “The Constitution was amended to give undue power to the federal government that the Founders never intended them to have.” If the problem that is causing the desire for term limits is that there is too much power in Washington then why not just take the tiger’s fangs away? Or change the tiger into a more manageable creature, like a lynx or something that can be directed against our enemies instead of us?
If the carburetor of your car is maladjusted you don’t add another carburetor to it to compensate for the incorrectly adjusted one. You simply adjust it back to the original and optimal specifications. Don’t you?
Well why then would we want to add yet another thing to the Constitution, which the Founders didn’t think was necessary, to make the country run at optimum? And at that, why would you want to add something that does nothing to restrict out of control federal power and does everything to restrict the voter’s options? If you want to limit a specific corrupt politician you can always vote for or support someone else. But if you have term limits not only do you get rid of the bad ones, you get rid of the good ones too! That would be a self imposed lack of options. If the next guy is going to be worse than the current guy, term limits would put the next guy in power even though he is worse.
With regards to causes and effects the problem with power in Washington isn’t the lack of term limits. It’s the amendments to the Constitution itself. Specifically, and most egregiously, it’s the Fourteenth, Sixteenth and Seventeenth Amendments that give exorbitant power to Washington.
Those who want term limits, as well as others, are pushing for an Article V convention of the States. The applicable clauses from the Constitution are, “on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof.” For those who aren’t familiar with this it simply means the States have more power than the federal government and can act to restrain them if they feel it’s necessary.
I am all, one hundred billion percent, for an Article V convention, but if it is to happen it should be properly directed, not towards adding things to correct aberrations in the system, but in removing the things that are causing it to be aberrated in the first place.
There is something to be understood about all three of the amendments I mentioned. I’m not going to go into here to any extensive degree. Better researchers than I have already tackled the point. These three amendments all have some extreme irregularities in their ratification. If you were to Google, “irregularities in seventeenth amendment ratification” you would be presented with a lot of data on the subject. The same goes with the other two. Therefore I’m going to focus my writings on what effect these amendments have had with regards to the transfer of State power to the federal government. However I do want it understood that in my opinion all three of these amendments were passed in violation of the Constitution.
The Fourteenth Amendment, Section One is the primary cause of the problem in my view. “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; [emphasis mine] nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
The emphasized text of the Fourteenth Amendment takes the power of all social issues and individual rights, plus State’s issues and rights, from the States and People and gives them to the federal government. As of this point, because of this, the federal government of the United States, especially the Supreme Court, is the sole arbiter of your personal and individual rights.
What gave the Supreme Court the authority to rule (just as one example) on Gay Marriage? The Fourteenth Amendment, Section One did. And because, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens,” there is nothing that any State can do about it except rebel or attempt to nullify. Why do we have Obamacare or a hundred other programs that are a total mess and waste of public money all across the fruited plains? Well, right there it is. They can pass anything calling it a “privilege or immunity” and that gives them immediate power over all of us. Personally.
If you happen to be one of those people who say that repealing the Fourteenth Amendment would take away the rights (privileges or immunities) of the People you should be aware of Article Four which says, “The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.” So the basic rights are protected at several other points, the Bill of Rights and Article Four, for example, without the Fourteenth Amendment.
Just as some additional notes that are worthy of mention, Section Three and Four of this amendment are both punishments directed at public officials who supported the Confederate States, which was not illegal at the time of secession. If you search on “ex post facto” (it means “after the fact”) in the text of the Constitution you will come up with this clause from Article One, Section Nine, “No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.” In other words the Fourteenth Amendment violates Article One, Section Nine. Not only that but it violates, rather grossly, the Tenth Amendment which says, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people,” because it transfers all power of social issues and individual rights from the States to the federal government.
Now I submit the question to the reader; is this not a gross aberration of the system of government our Founding Fathers presented us with? And rather than changing from Nancy Pelosi deciding what is right and wrong for all of us to a “Mini-Me” version of Nancy Pelosi deciding what is right and wrong for all of us, wouldn’t we be better off to just take that power entirely back from Nancy Pelosi and all of her successors? Wouldn’t we be better off to put that power into a more manageable size of federal government with only specific and limited powers as Thomas Jefferson suggested in his quote above? I certainly think so.
If we were to repeal the Fourteenth Amendment not only would what I suggested in the paragraph above happen but dozens of federal agencies and hundreds of federal programs would simply cease to be. And they would take the corresponding thousands of federal regulations with them and save the country billions, if not trillions, of dollars in federal spending.
Okay, okay, I’m not so naive to believe it would be that simple. It would take a lot of court work and education to strike down the firmly entrenched agencies and programs and the States would have some significant work transitioning, but I seriously think it would be worth it. One thing that would be certain would be that every ruling the Supreme Court has ever based on the Fourteenth Amendment would be void.
This brings us happily to taxes. How would you like to get rid of the IRS?
Well consider this illegally ratified amendment, numbering sixteen on the list, “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.” Compare that with this clause from Article One, Section Nine, which states, “No capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid,” which the Sixteenth Amendment, conveniently to the consolidation of federal power, did away with. So in other words, the power of the federal government went from, “we can’t take your money,” to “we can and will take your money and there’s nothing you can do to stop us.”
I would at this time like to thank President William Howard Taft and his cronies for giving us a government which is very nearly socialist which still somehow pretends to be a representative republic. I’m all for switching it back.
However there’s still more in the Seventeenth Amendment, which includes the following; “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof.” Compare that with the original text from Article One, Section Three, “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof.” This is where the current system comes into conflict with the original system. A modernly educated person might reflexively think that it’s better now because the People are directly electing their representatives. A person who knows the original design won’t be fooled by this argument.
The House of Representatives are where the People are, by original design, supposed to elect their representatives. The Senate however, was supposed to be the representative of the State’s governments to the federal government. As such the combined strength of the Senate, in days gone by, was equal to that of the president. If the federal government wanted to do something disadvantageous to one or more States the senators could politely, or otherwise, tell the president where to put his executive orders and there was little the president could do about it. In that time the State’s power was above the federal government. Now the States, who by original design, were supposed to act as an intermediate step between the federal government and the People, have no representatives in the government to rein them in when they get out of control. It’s just the People versus the federal government and the almost powerless States are on the sidelines with no ability to protect their citizens.
Thanks to President Wilson for this one. I guess when you want tyrannical power enough you can fool people into giving it to you if you are very clever about it.
All three of these amendments were designed to reduce the power of the States and the People, and enhance the power of the federal government over them. These amendments, not long periods of time in office, is why the federal congressmen and president are dangerous. They have, because of them, power to use against you. Without that power they would be limited only to issues of major national interest and foreign interest, no matter how long they stayed in office. This federal government was designed by the Founding Fathers to never rule absolutely over any individual or State. Yet now it would be difficult to argue that they don’t rule over us in every possible way.
These amendments give the tiger his fangs and I say it’s high time to repeal them. And that would make people like Harry Reid very, very unhappy.