by Stacey Selleck
For anyone who still believes “We have term limits, they’re called elections,” let me draw your attention to Exhibit A, the outcome of the midterm elections. 98% of the incumbents on the ballot won re-election. If that doesn’t sink in, let’s rephrase it. Just 2% of the challengers with an incumbent in the race emerged victorious. Just two percent! Let that sink in.
Let’s also add the fact that Congress has just a 20% approval rating, which is much higher than its usual single digit percentage. With statistics like that, it is impossible to back up the statement that “elections equal term limits.” It is simply untrue.
Don’t believe me? Even the New York Times wrote about it. According to the article, entitled, “Despite Discontent, Midterm Voters Did Not Kick Out Incumbents,” of the 365 House districts in which an incumbent faced re-election, only six Democrats lost their seats as of November 16th. On the Republican side, there were only three incumbents who lost their seats.
In the U.S. Senate, the numbers were even more dismal. At the time of this writing, of the races with an incumbent and where a victor emerged, 100% of the current senators won re-election. 100%!
When 98% of the Congress gets re-elected when the people are crying for change, you have to say the system is broken and it’s time for a change.
This is the best argument FOR term limits. Incumbents have so much advantage that they cruise back into office without having real approval by the voters. What this proves is that if you’re an incumbent, you win automatically. You don’t even have to try.
The only way we ever get to see new faces and bring in new ideas is if a seated politician runs for another office, resigns, retires, dies or goes to prison. That leaves an open seat, basically the only chance for a non-incumbent may be assured victory.
This is not an anamoly. Incumbent re-election rates always approach 95%. This election was no different and the results speak for themselves. They are proof positive that term limits is the only way to guarantee open seat opportunities at regular intervals.