Want Term Limits for Congress? Here’s How We Get it Done
By Nick Tomboulides
When I speak with people about congressional term limits, they’ll often say “Of course. Everyone supports that! Why don’t we have it already?”
The answer is simple: We don’t yet have term limits on Congress because politicians on both sides of the aisle are blocking it for self-serving reasons. Legally speaking, congressional term limits could be adopted in one week’s time if America’s politicians actually listened to the people they represent (80% of whom support the issue). It would take a simple two-thirds vote in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate, followed by majority votes in 38 state legislatures. That would pose no problem if term limits were something our leaders wanted. But it’s not. In fact, there is nothing members of Congress want less than term limits, because term limits are a threat to their power, perks, and privilege.
Term limits would transfer power away from the entrenched establishment in both parties and back to the American people, whose beliefs and aspirations are viewed cynically by Washington elites. Here’s the good news, though: we can still term limit Congress despite this roadblock. Let’s walk through the steps.
(1) Take The Decision Out of Washington’s Hands
Guess what? We can term limit Congress without going through Washington, D.C. That’s right. We can tell Pelosi and McConnell to take a hike, because the Constitution has a solution. Under Article V of the Constitution, state legislatures may create a convention to enact a constitutional amendment and nobody in Washington can stop them. It takes getting 34 state legislatures – those politicians you elect to serve you at your state capitol – to pass resolutions calling for a Term Limits Convention. The legislatures of Florida, Alabama, Missouri and West Virginia have already passed the resolution. Let’s keep going.
(2) Get to Know Your State Legislators
“Trump versus Biden! Matt Gaetz versus AOC!” National politics are captivating, and they consume 99% of media coverage. But presidents, senators and congressmembers aren’t the only leaders who matter. Each state capital in America has a state legislature, consisting of state representatives and state senators who wield substantial power. These state legislators are the ones who must pass the Term Limits Convention resolution in order to get term limits for Congress. Fortunately, state legislators live more like ordinary citizens than politicians in Washington. They’re more accessible, more down to earth and more likely to believe in congressional term limits…or be open to persuasion. But they won’t be convinced by some YouTube video. They need to hear directly from YOU, their constituents, on the importance and necessity of passing the term limits convention. Meet with your personal state rep and state senator. Call them. Email them. Do all of the above. Ask them in a friendly and respectful way to sign the U.S. Term Limits pledge.
(3) Make This An Election Issue
On average, state legislators are way better on the issue of term limits than members of Congress, but they’re still not great. They need to realize that, by opposing term limits – which is the most popular issue in the country – they are jeopardizing their own bids for reelection. Conversely, those who support term limits need to watch themselves gaining in popularity for taking a principled and popular stand. Get involved by pulling together a group of community volunteers to write letters to the editor that praise candidates who have signed the U.S. Term Limits pledge. Don’t be afraid to be critical of candidates who have refused to sign. Let no election-related meeting or discussion pass by without asking the question “Where do these candidates stand on congressional term limits and the U.S. Term Limits pledge?”
By raising this issue in local forums, you will make candidates and incumbent politicians more responsive to it. It is this small progress at the local level, multiplied and amplified in communities all over America, that will ultimately be the key ingredient in successfully term-limiting Congress.
To download a copy of the U.S. Term Limits pledge, click here.