by Rick Aiello
Late in July, Lee Elci wrote in support of term limits for Congress. With apologies and all due respect to Mr. Elci, calling for congressional term limits to “fix” Congress is the same misguided thinking as the calls for a “Convention of States” (COS) to “fix” the Constitution. Neither idea solves anything, and both disregard what the Constitution already provides. The COS is off-topic here except to say that its basic premise, which is that the Constitution needs to be changed to reign in government overreach, balance the budget, or what have you, ignores the very obvious fact that the overreach occurs because the government does not abide by the Constitution the way it already is. If the government is not following the Constitution, then logically, the solution is not to change the Constitution but to enforce it.
As for term limits, a “last resort of a desperate electorate” should NOT be federal term limits. Why? First of all, they already exist. They are called elections. The founders deliberately did not write term limits for Congress into the Constitution because they felt elections were the best way to control government overreach. They gave representatives in the House two-year terms in office (without any limit on the number of terms they could serve) because they would have to face the voters every two years. In this way, if they were not happy with their representatives, the people could vote them out of office.
In George Detweiler’s piece for the New American of June 10, 1996, “Term Limits Temptation”, he writes (emphasis added):
While the term limits concept was considered during the Constitutional Convention of 1787, it was rejected by the delegates, who instead provided for short terms of office – two years for the House of Representatives, four years for the Presidency, and six years for the Senate. James Madison, who opposed term limits at the Constitutional Convention, recorded in his notes the words of a fellow delegate, Roger Sherman: “Frequent elections are necessary to preserve the good behavior of rulers. They also tend to give permanency to the Government, by preserving that good behavior, because it ensures their re-election.” It is difficult to challenge Sherman’s logic: If a politician were not eligible to run for re-election because of term limits, what incentive would he have to please the voters? The answer, of course, is that he would have little such incentive, and he would be even more prone than before to fall prey to the special interests in Washington.
Those who call for term limits tend to forget that the Constitution authorized the state legislators to choose their state’s U.S. Senators in Article I, Section 3, Clause 1: The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.
The choosing of senators by the state legislators was reinforced in Article I, Section 4, Clause 1: The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.
With this structure, the state legislators had their own “term limits” because they could recall, at any time, those senators with whom the legislators were unhappy and select their replacements – all without going through the normal election cycle. The senators were intended to represent the state in the Congress (which is why each state has two, regardless of size or population), while the representatives were intended to represent the people in Congress (which is why they are apportioned by population and why there is a census). This is one reason that All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives (Article I, Section 7, Clause 1). The Constitution’s framers intended for the authorization to spend the people’s money to rest with the representatives who are supposed to answer to those people every two years.
The 17th Amendment unlawfully changed Article I, Section 3, Clause 1 from the selection of senators by the state legislators to a direct election by the people (a popular vote). It was unlawful for two reasons: 1) The Constitution cannot conflict with itself, even if an amendment is passed, and 2) the 17th Amendment was never lawfully ratified according to Constitutional requirements (read Bill Benson’s The Law That Never Was). This means that all federal laws passed since 1913, when the 17th was allegedly ratified, are null and void because each Senate has been unlawfully seated since 1913. (Technically, each Congress since 1871 has been unlawfully seated because of the corporate government the Act of 1871 unconstitutionally created, so every federal law since 1871 is null and void, but that’s a story for another day). For some background about the 17th Amendment and the damage the direct election of senators has caused, see How the 17th Amendment Has Destroyed This Republic, by Doug McKee (http://www.dearliberty.net/repeal-of-17th-amendment/17th-amendment-done).
Second of all, Congressional term limits would create more lame-duck Congressmen than normal. Members of Congress who have either decided to retire or been voted out in a November election remain in office until the new Congress is seated, which used to be when the president was inaugurated on March 4. Until the 20th Amendment was passed in 1933, moving that date to January 20, the Congressmen who were not returning to office were lame ducks for four months.
The 20th Amendment shortened this period to two months and applies, of course, only to those voted out or not seeking re-election. Lame ducks frequently vote for bills as they please – or as their “handlers” and powerful influencers dictate (such as the party leadership, lobbyists, or other “special interests” with strong arms, deep pockets, or both), regardless of what’s best for their constituents because they no longer have to answer to them. But mandated term limits would make lame ducks of far more of the Congressmen than there are now, and would also throw out the good representatives along with the bad ones. What is the benefit of that?
Mr. Elci is correct that since 1964, 93% of House and 80% of the Senate races went to the incumbents (actually, 82.6% for the Senate, or 88% for both houses combined, according to http://www.opensecrets.org/bigpicture/reelect.php). The problem here is not the lack of term limits but the surfeit of voters who keep re-electing those incumbents, as well as the fact that U.S. Senators are no longer appointed by the state
legislatures as the Constitution originally intended. Term limiting either house in Congress will not do a thing to help get better candidates elected if the electorate keeps voting for candidates along party lines or for those who promise the most government largesse (which comes from taxpayers, anyway, and represents the totally unconstitutional redistribution of wealth so revered by communists).
Gary Benoit wrote in “The Folly of Term Limits” in the July 11, 2022 New American:
Amending the Constitution to term-limit congressmen is not the answer. If the goal is to elect better congressmen, then what’s needed is better-informed voters. Otherwise, the voters will be beguiled again and again by the politicians they elect no matter how many times they replace one politician with another.
The electorate certainly needs to be better informed. If they were, they would be more likely to know their natural, God-given rights, as well as the limitations the Constitution places on the government. Government, after all, fears people who know and defend their rights but not those who don’t. As Thomas Jefferson allegedly put it, “When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty.” Such informed voters would also be more likely to recognize which candidates are going to uphold their Constitutional rights and which are not. How can they recognize such candidates if they don’t know what their rights are?
However, the fact that 88% of all Congressional incumbents have been re-elected since 1964 shows that the various attempts over the years to “educate the electorate” either have not been successful or have been offset by the political machinery the cabal that runs the government uses to get leftist candidates into office. That 88% also demonstrates that most voters approve of the jobs their representatives are doing (or else why re-elect them?). Most of Congress is quantifiably socialist and pro-big government, because approximately 60% of the House and 65% of the Senate cast legislative votes against Constitutional principles on a regular basis, according to The John Birch Society’s Freedom Index at https://thefreedomindex.org. (By definition, anything against Constitutional principles is socialist and pro-big government.) All members of Congress take oaths to the Constitution, so all of their legislative actions should be in support of the Constitution 100% of the time, not just 5%, 10%, 20%, 30%, or 40% of the time.
The re-election rate shows that most voters approve of socialism, and perhaps even welcome it. Why else would they keep re-electing socialist politicians? In 2020, Trevor Loudon updated his list of 65 communists, socialists and security risks in Congress (https://www.trevorloudon.com/2020/08/trevor-loudons-2020-list-of-65-communists-socialists-and-security-risks-in-congress). The fact that every one of them is a Democrat should surprise no one, since the Democrat Party is the first tier of the Communist Party in America and the Republican Party is the second tier, but the fact that there are any “communists, socialists and security risks in Congress” at all should repulse – and scare the hell out of – every American who understands the blight that socialism-communism casts on freedom everywhere it takes root, which, by the way, is
almost everywhere on planet Earth. How did those socialists get into Congress? The electorate voted for them (including the senators, thanks to the 17th Amendment).
Term limits certainly won’t fix this problem, because the socialist-loving voters will keep replacing the representatives with more of the same socialist ilk. And with whom do you think those voters are going to replace the good reps – the non-communists – when their term allotments run out if term limits are imposed?
I do not understand Mr. Elci’s logic in his claim that “With term limits in place, Congress will be more responsible toward constituents and less focused on reelection. every two years.” Term limits would create many more lame-duck members of Congress instead of those “more responsible toward constituents and less focused on reelection.” (And even those focused on re-election are likely to move onto some other government job because of the addiction of “government paychecks and power”, as George Detweiler notes in the first bullet point further ahead.)
Those who advocate for term limits are essentially admitting to their complete lack of faith in the ability of voters to remove the bad members of Congress, while also ignoring the fact that their replacements will still come from the same voters. In the computer world, that’s known as “garbage in, garbage out.” In Einstein’s world, the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
Limiting House members to six terms (12 years) and senators to three terms, or 18 years, as Mr. Elci proposes, still gives Congress, most of which, as shown by the Freedom Index scores above, consists of representatives and senators who are not loyal to their oaths, and therefore not loyal to their constituents, plenty of time to wreak havoc by supporting bad (i.e. unconstitutional) legislation. This is one reason, as Mr. Elci acknowledged, that “the framers of the Constitution made change difficult and implementing term limits would be achieved only by a constitutional amendment.” The framers simply didn’t want term limits for Congress, period. That’s why they made it difficult to implement them.
George Detweiler presents more arguments against mandated term limits in his “Term Limits Temptation” piece. Two of them are (emphasis added):
Government paychecks and power are terribly addictive. Term limits would create a pool of ex-congressmen and ex-senators desperate to stay on the federal payroll rather than find a real job in the private sector. The executive branch – that vast network of departments, bureaus, agencies, advisers, and regulatory commissions – would become the employer of choice for those exiting Congress. The President, fully realizing the attraction Administration jobs would offer to congressmen forced to retire due to term limits, would undoubtedly use this as leverage to convince these congressmen to vote for Administration policies.
The mere passage of a term limits law would have a soporific effect on the public. Content in the misconception that once limits are imposed only competent, honorable people could hold office, the American citizenry would assume that their vigilance is no longer needed; they would thus be prone to ignore the actions of their elected officials and go into a deep slumber. Voters would elect a string of mandated short termers who would go about their business largely unwatched.
The American citizenry’s vigilance is already severely depleted. It would be much worse with mandated term limits.
If the Congress isn’t doing their job, which is to uphold the rights of the people, and if the electorate isn’t doing their job and voting the bad members out of office, what then, if not term limits? Here is a maxim: for every Constitutional violation, there is a Constitutional remedy. That remedy exists without changing anything in the Constitution because the Constitution already provides it. Article VI, Clause 2 of the Constitution says (emphasis added), This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding. Clause 3 says, The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
The Constitution is therefore the supreme Law of the United States of America. It is superior to every statute, rule, regulation, edict, and dictate, whether federal, state, or local (including the state Constitutions), and every member of Congress must take an oath to uphold that Constitution. It so happens that every oath taker who violates his or her Constitutional oath commits a crime, and it isn’t a misdemeanor. Nor is it a felony. It is treason.
If you don’t believe it, here is the definition of treason in the national Constitution (Article III, Section 3, Clause 1, emphasis added):
Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
Here it is in the Connecticut Constitution (Article Ninth of Impeachments, Section 4, emphasis added):
Treason against the state shall consist only in levying war against it, or adhering to its enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason, unless on the testimony of at least two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in
open court. No conviction of treason, or attainder, shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture.
And here it is in the federal statutes, along with the punishment (18 U.S. Code § 2381, emphasis added):
Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.
In Cooper v. Aaron, 358 U.S. 1, 78 S. Ct. 1401 (1958), the U.S. Supreme Court said that “no state legislator or executive or judicial officer can war against the Constitution without violating his undertaking to support it”. Violating one’s oath of office, therefore, is a form of rebelling or levying war against the lawful authority of the United States Constitution, and is an act of treason. It is also an act of sedition and insurrection, if you would like to look up those definitions on your own. Treason, sedition, and insurrection, by the way, are not limited to being only wartime crimes. They also apply to times of peace.
People who commit treason are supposed to be arrested, indicted, and prosecuted if found guilty in a court of competent jurisdiction, and obviously, not allowed to remain in office until the next election, whether term limited or not. Holding them thus accountable to their Constitutionally-delegated and limited powers would send a clear message to other politicians to adhere to their Constitutional mandates while in public office or face termination and then possibly civil or criminal prosecution, or both. Lame ducks who would normally vote for socialist bills before leaving Congress for some other cushy government job (instead of having to find a more demanding and competitive one in the private sector) would probably seriously reconsider their votes if they knew they could be prosecuted for treason as a result, as should those remaining in Congress. The oath is not just some ceremonial rite to be ignored once in public office, even though that is how it is usually treated.
But allowing them to remain in office until their term ends, or relying on the electorate to vote them out, not only sends no such message but amounts to a “slap on the wrist” at best. Really, now – a slap on the wrist for treason, insurrection, and sedition? They are criminals – domestic-enemy-traitors – and should be treated accordingly.
If the electorate is so “desperate” as Mr. Elci seems to think they are, they would do well to make the effort to enforce the Constitution rather than cling to the false hope of term limits.
True freedom is neither free nor a spectator sport. It requires commitment and responsibility – a commitment to learning what your rights are and what the Constitutional limitations of government are, and taking the personal responsibility of defending those rights when the government abuses them. This abuse has been
practically a daily occurrence for many decades, long before COVID, but it has been much more blatant the last two years.
Instead of clamoring for passive solutions that will not work, such as term limits and a Convention of States, why not advocate for active solutions that will? Why not spend your energy returning our once-great country to its Constitutional moorings by holding government officials – including the politicians who are supposed to represent us – to their Constitutional oaths? You have a right to challenge their authority because we the people delegated that limited authority to them through the Constitution, and nowhere in that supreme law of the United States does it say they can violate your rights at any time (including emergencies) – especially those expressed in the Bill of Rights. If you do not challenge that authority lawfully, you consent to it, and then get the government you deserve.
Did you know that the Constitution says that if any public officer engages in insurrection or rebellion against the United States (which is what any violation of his oath is), he has no authority to hold that office? Tale a look at Section 3 of the 14th Amendment (emphasis added): No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.
Section 4 says those insurrectionists cannot be paid public money: But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States…
These sections are self-authenticating. No term limits, elections, warrants, or judges are needed – they vacant their offices the moment they violate their oath. Law enforcement should then honor their own oaths and physically remove them from office and place them under arrest. If law enforcement refuses to do its duty, that leaves only the people themselves, the ones being oppressed by the extraordinarily and diabolically corrupt cabal running the government, to defend their freedoms. They can write affidavits, make citizen’s arrests, push for impeachment, go after their bonds, file criminal complaints, and look for prosecutors and judges willing to abide by their oaths and do the right thing. And get rid of the unlawful 17th Amendment and return to state legislatures choosing their states’ U.S. Senators. Yes, it takes work, and yes, it can be frustrating. But we are in a war, and war is hell. How much is your freedom really worth to you?
America was founded as a Constitutional republic, and the political power of that republic was placed in the hands of the people as a self-governing society. That power was not placed in the hands of the government. But Americans have to make the effort, as authorized in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution(s), and take lawful, Constitutional actions against the domestic-enemy-traitors in government, because those traitors certainly are not going to uphold the people’s rights unless they
are forced to. As Thomas Jefferson famously wrote in the Kentucky Resolutions in 1798: “In questions of power, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the constitution.”
If you are interested in learning how to use the Constitution to defend your rights and stop the tyranny that’s all around us, you might want to listen to the audio podcast, How to Restore Constitutional Governance in America. It explains what Constitutional governance is, why we need it, how we lost it, and how to restore it. It also talks about rights, which are unalienable because they come from God, versus privileges, which can be taken away because they come from government. The podcast consists of five parts, each of which runs about 30 minutes, and which can be downloaded to any storage device as MP3 files.
The link itself is http://constitutionalgovernance.podbean.com.