By Theo Mattheiss
Elm Staff Writer
We all know that our president can only serve a total of two terms in the White House, but it is a lesser-known fact that no such limit exists for Congressmen. Many of them have been in office for generations, to the detriment of our society.
Mitch McConnell, the senate majority leader, was elected as a senator from Kentucky in 1985, and has been there ever since. Patrick Leahy, from Vermont, arrived in the senate a decade earlier, and has remained in office for an astonishing 43 years.
Presidents were once able to serve an unlimited number of terms, as well. This changed when Franklin D. Roosevelt remained president for a record four terms in a row, and an amendment to the Constitution was subsequently passed which imposed the two-term rule of today. The American people of his time understood that, despite FDR’s remarkable performance as president for all those years, the cornerstone of our democracy is that power is transferred between individuals.
Despite the revision to the executive branch, no such measure was ever imposed on the equally-important legislative branch. As a result, we struggle today to make progress in our country, with a capitol building congested by career politicians who care more about getting re-elected than affecting any real changes. As Representative Sean Duffy from Wisconsin said, “career politicians tend to get more comfortable with Washington elite and lose touch with the people and reasons that sent them to Washington in the first place.”
The argument can be made that Washington benefits in some ways from its career politicians. It’s good to have older Congressmen around, whose opinions and demeanors have been tempered by longevity. They have mastered the art of socializing with Washington’s elite, and, by extension, organizing deals with them and other Congressmen. The best argument in favor of allowing career politicians to continue on their current course is the wealth of experience they offer. Naturally, they can represent stability for some voters.
Still, allowing career politicians to stay in power causes stagnation. Congressmen shouldn’t be permitted to get so cozy in Washington. Serving as a politician was intended by the founders to be a duty that a citizen could undertake in addition to their regular lives, with the understanding that such a role was a privilege, and not to