Term Limits and Fighting the Status Quo

Note: I often go on little rants on Twitter when the mood strikes instead of writing things here. As such, I’ve decided to go back and pull the threads and change them into blog posts, if only so this blog doesn’t sit completely fallow between times when I decide to post things. Plus, it will allow me to finish some thoughts that might not have been complete due to character limits on Twitter. Check out the tag “Twitter Rants” for all the posts like this. They will be posted on the date that I initially did the thread.

Ro Khanna (D), Representative for California’s 17th congressional district, tweeted the following thing:

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>I might be the first member of Congress to say this: Bernie should absolutely run again in 2020! <a href=”https://t.co/B6u1vOX8Rb”>https://t.co/B6u1vOX8Rb</a></p>&mdash; Ro Khanna (@RoKhanna) <a href=”https://twitter.com/RoKhanna/status/874293110624440321″>June 12, 2017</a></blockquote>


This tweet prompted the following thread on Twitter:

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Huge fan of Bernie, he made a lot of folks care about politics for the first time in their lives, but he is not the solution in 2020 <a href=”https://t.co/Qa2BTOTDsF”>https://t.co/Qa2BTOTDsF</a></p>&mdash; Robert Eberhard (@GuruEbby) <a href=”https://twitter.com/GuruEbby/status/874294609911975936″>June 12, 2017</a></blockquote>


You can read it there, but I’m going to expand on some of the things I said below in a format that might be a little easier to read:

Huge fan of Bernie, he made a lot of folks care about politics for the first time in their lives, but he is not the solution for Democrats in 2020. His “movement” is useful, and Democrats need to tap into that passion in all races and get qualified candidates on ballots and voters to the polls to elect them.

I hate to sound like someone that is almost a millennial – I was born in December 1980, so depending on your definition of millennial, I either barely make the cut or barely miss it – but it’s time for a new generation to lead this country forward. We simply can’t keep rolling back the same group of people every 2 to 4 years for major elections. Original thought is a good things, which is why term limits should be on every progressive candidate’s platform. Elected* government service should not be a life-long career.

*I had to clarify the elected part because I am currently a federal employee, have been for about 10 years of my life, and plan on trying to make it to at least 20 years if I can.

The President is limited to two terms by the 22nd Amendment, which was passed after FDR was elected four times. We decided that it wasn’t a good idea anymore and we fixed it. Why couldn’t we do the same thing for Representatives and Senators? Is there really any true benefit to be represented by the same person for a lifetime? I would propose the following, under the same provisions as the 22nd Amendment: two 6-year terms for Senators and four 2-year terms for Representatives.

Furthermore, I would combine the overall term limits if a person wanted to go from the House to the Senate or vice versa: If you want to be a Senator after being a Representative, you get one term as a Senator, and you can only do it if you’ve serve three terms or less. If you go the other way, you can only do three 2-year terms in the House after one term in the Senate. That way, no single person can be elected and serve in Congress for longer than 12 years total.

This could further be extended to the Presidential term limits as well if a person wants “promote” from Congress to the presidency. Maybe make the limit on number of times you can be elected to federal office all together? I don’t know this is a work in progress.

Would this change things in the long run? I don’t know, but maybe it would make even more people excited to be a part of things, especially when they are casting votes for people that are closer in age to them. The major presidential candidates on my ballot last November – excluding Evan McMullin, who was a big deal here in Utah – were all at least 25 years older than me. The two major party candidates were almost 35 years older than me! My Representative has been in Congress for a solid third of my life, though I’ve only lived in his district for three years, but you get the point.

In the Senate, my senior Senator – Orrin Hatch – has been in office longer than I’ve been alive.*

*He was originally elected in 1976, mainly on the platform that the Senator at the time had been in Washington for 18 years and wasn’t serving his constituency in Utah. 40+ years later, and he’s still considering whether to run again next year for his 8TH TERM!

My junior Senator – Mike Lee – is at least within a decade of me in age, but some of his policies make me feel like he is much older than that.

This is not to say that we should be electing a bunch of 35 year olds for all the offices out these. Heck, I’m moving away from that age now and when I’m 50, I probably wouldn’t want some super young punk to be president either. But President Obama was 47 when elected; George W. Bush was 54; Bill Clinton was 46. Why does everyone think that we should be electing 70 year olds to one on the most rigorous jobs on earth? We should be electing younger presidents.

My view on this may be currently tainted by the book I am currently reading – The Presidents Club. The book mainly covers how all the presidents since Truman have been aided in office by their predecessors. The book has given me a new appreciation for seemingly garbage presidents like Hoover and Ford, based primarily on the things they assisted with after they were president. Even Nixon received a bit of redeeming post-resignation, though he was still kind of a scumbag towards Carter for some reason. (Spoiler Alert: It’s because he was a Democrat elected amid a bunch of Republicans)

But back to my point: Younger presidents have a longer-post presidency life where they can accomplish a lot of good. Hoover prevented starvation across Europe after World War 2, and was a great ally to future presidents of both parties (he lived 31 years after his presidency). Jimmy Carter was deemed a failure as president, but he’s done more good post-presidency than he could have done if never elected. Even Clinton, the youngest president of my lifetime, used his stature as a former president to do great things with the Clinton Foundation, even if a vast swath of this country think it is some pay-for-play fraud (it’s not, by the way). Obama is poised to do great things in his post-presidential life, and he’s still in his mid-50s! Two or three decades to spend on whatever causes he decides to influence.

So to return to the original reason behind this thread: Bernie is great. He’s been an ally to progressive causes for a long time. But he will be 79 on Election Day in 2020. There has to be a younger option out there, right? Even beyond Bernie, the other names currently floating around out there for the Dems are of a similar generation. Even my personal favorite is only a decade younger than Bernie. #sadface

I’d like to start seeing a bunch of people born in the 1970s (and later) ascending to office these days, but a lot of that ascension can’t start until the people born in the ‘40s and ‘50s (or earlier!) start to step aside, often after 30+ years in office. This isn’t meant to shame folks for being old; experience still matters. But younger people also have experience doing a lot of different things that older generations may not realize. They also care about things, and vote for those things IF they have a candidate they can relate to.

It’s hard for me personally to relate to people that are 30 years older than me. I can judge their experiences, sure, but they “grew up” in a different America than me. I want my elected representatives to share in some of my experiences. This is another reason why I support publicly funded campaigns, if only so that “common” folks can rise up and be elected for things. Modern politics is expensive, and money often determines how well known you are and your success in elections. This would also help get younger, less “established” folks in office if it wasn’t required to raise MILLIONS for a legislative seat or BILLIONS for a presidential campaign.

So, yeah, don’t necessarily vote for someone just because they are younger, but also stop running all the old people in every election.

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