The top 3 questions we get most often at U.S. Term Limits are:
- “Why not put term limits to a national vote of the people?”
- “How can we expect Congress to term limit itself?” and
- “What can I do as a citizen term limits supporter?”
“Why not put term limits to a national vote of the people?”
The short answer is “there’s no such thing as a national referendum in this country.”
The United States of America is a Representative Democracy. The citizens of our country do not directly create the laws. That is the responsibility of our elected representatives in Congress. All of our national laws are written by lawmakers in D.C. (I won’t broach the topic of laws pseudo laws enacted or enforced by administrative agencies in the scope of this article.) The truth of the matter is… there’s no such thing as a national referendum… for anything. The electoral college elects the president and the states elect their own senators. The districts elect their own House representatives. The only time people affect the laws is if their states or municipalities allow ballot initiatives. But there is no such animal at the national level.
The closest thing we have is the ability to influence our state representatives to push for an amendment to the Constitution on our behalf. Our federal lawmakers must operate within the confines of the U.S. Constitution. Our system was designed with checks and balances so that the three branches of government (Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary), along with the states, have a degree of power and influence over the other entities.
How do the states have any power or influence? Our Representative Democracy is specifically a Federal Republic. That is, our government is a body of representatives from states that also share in the division of power. One of the powers delegated to the states, other than decentralized infrastructure, taxing, and education, is that they have the sole power to both propose and ratify amendments to the Constitution.
Remember what we said the Constitution is? Its the governing document that controls the authority of Congress and the federal government. Only the states may both propose and ratify amendments. Congress has the authority to propose amendments to the governing document that controls the institution, but it may not ratify them. And for good reason. That power is held solely by the states that make up the republic… controlling the central government. Don’t let this important fact slip through the cracks. It is the obligation of the states to set the rules of the Constitution. It is not, nor has it ever been, the sole power of Congress. The Congress does not have the power to create the rules that govern it.
“How can we expect Congress to term limit itself?”
Which brings me to another question I hear from our supporters, “How do we ever expect the Congress to impose term limits on itself?” It’s not the duty of Congress to control itself. It is the duty of the states. That is why the states have the power to amend the Constitution. And how do the states do that? By passing a resolution through the legislature declaring their desire to have a national amendment proposal convention.
That’s the mission of U.S. Term Limits. Every legislative session, we work with state legislators and grassroots activists to pass a term limits convention resolution through the states. We believe in the states obligation to amend the Constitution and seek to exercise that Constitutional power to control Congress.
And who has influence over your state lawmakers? That’s right… you, the voter. If you want term limits on Congress, you, as a constituent, with a state representative, need to tell them you want them to support a term limits amendment to the Constitution.
“What can I do to help as a citizen term limits supporter?”
Here is a list of some of the things you can do right away:
- sign the term limits petition at termlimits.com/petition.
- get your state lawmaker to sign the pledge here.
- ask your state legislator to sponsor our model legislation located here.
- get your U.S. legislator to sign the pledge here.
- answer our calls to action to help get the resolutions going through your state pass all of the required votes.
- email and call your legislators asking them to support a term limits on Congress amendment
- attend local term limits events
- participate in social media activities to get the word out
- form a term limits group in your town
- get your association to publicly support our term limits resolution
- write a letter to the editor on the importance of term limits in your local paper
- volunteer for more at termlimits.com/volunteer.
- keep up to date by subscribing to our podcast at termlimits.com/podcast.
- donate to our effort at termlimits.com/donate.
- Follow us on facebook, twitter, and review our web site for blog posts.
- Sign up to be on our mailing list to keep up-to-date.
- Get ready to celebrate national term limits day on February 27th.
Hope that gives you a good place to start. If you’d like more information, feel free to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.