Congressional term limits needed
Published 4:28 pm Friday, August 27, 2021
BY REP. SCOTTY CAMPBELL
I have been lucky to have had a talk radio career where I got to talk with people every day. While I did get to talk to a lot of special guests to help inform myself, our neighbors and friends, the most rewarding part of the job was when I got to listen to the callers voice their thoughts and opinions.
We have some very astute voters who pay attention to what’s going on in Washington D.C. and Nashville, and they would call in on a regular basis. Their voices were clear, concise, and to the point — they’ve made it known that they want term limits placed on Congress.
Congressional term limits is one of those rare issues where voters of both major parties agree; both sides understand that career politicians are ruining our country. Most people wholeheartedly believe and understand that, but they’re often mistaken in thinking that the only way such change can be achieved is through Congress directly taking action by introducing an amendment. But that’s not the case.
The Founding Fathers were wise and understood the corruptible nature of government and were fearful of any institution holding too much power. It’s why we have branches of government with a separation of powers defined in the U.S. Constitution. Specifically in Article V, the Founding Fathers identified and outlined two different methods that an amendment may be introduced. The first, and more commonly known method, is for Congress to introduce an amendment by passing a resolution in Congress. For example, Congress passed a resolution in 1947 that would place term limits on the president of the United States, which the states in turn ratified in 1951. That same method could be used for supporting a resolution for congressional term limits, but the more realistic scenario is for state legislatures to use Article V for an amendment convention specific to term limiting Congress.
The Framers went to great lengths to discuss the idea of term limits and after great debate Gouverneur Morris pointed out that candidates would make corrupt bargains to get re-elected. President Washington, knowing that precedent in a young government would carry great significance, selflessly served just two terms and retired back to Mount Vernon. That tradition was passed down for approximately 150 years. Over that time, there arose a fear that the Washingtonian example would someday be lost, and it took the four-term presidency of President Franklin D. Roosevelt before Congress firmly knew a new age of executive overstay could be born and took action to limit such potential abuse.
I think it’s safe to say that those same fears exist today with the American public. Of course, it’s not the executive branch that is of concern but in the aristocratic, self-serving body that Congress has grown into today.
For the reasons mentioned above, I am proud to support HJR 8. I, along with several of my colleagues in the Tennessee House of Representatives, approved of the measure on April 8. We eagerly await the upcoming session as this measure carries forward in the Senate. With such overwhelming support from voters (78% of Tennesseans), I encourage the Tennessee Senate to finish the job we began and pass HJR 8 when they come back in January.
(Scotty Campbell represents Johnson County and parts of Carter County in the Tennessee General Assembly.)