There is enough historical evidence that our Founding Fathers strongly believed in a limited period of time one should serve in an elected office. Simply put, they did not want public officials to become so ingrained in an elective office, that the they (the office holder) would become more concerned about their political survival, than about the survival of the nation.
During the past few years we Americans have witnessed an erosion of our rights, a disregard for the Constitution, and abuses of power on all levels of government.
In this 21st Century we are witnessing the U.S. Congress using its power to politicize critical national issues because they are more concerned about saving their jobs than saving the nation. We are seeing such abuse of power not only with our federal government elected officials, but also with our state and local government elected officials. They are doing exactly what our Founders feared!
When public life becomes a vocation for the political office holder, he or she becomes too secure and comfortable in their position. They become obsessed with the trappings of the office and develop a sense of entitlement, eventually leading to a total disregard for the will of the people.
At the birth of our nation, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and other American leaders believed that term limits would prevent political office holders from obsessing with the “trappings of the office”. They believed that term limits would strengthen our nation by limiting the time served by all elected political office holders.
I concur with our Founders and agree that a prolonged concentration of power is not good on any level of government, national, state, county, and local.
It was Thomas Jefferson who said, “To prevent every danger which might arise to American freedom from continuing too long in office, it is earnestly recommended that we set an obligation on the holder of that office to go out after a certain period.”
Connecticut’s Roger Sherman wrote, “Representatives ought to return home and mix with the people. By remaining at the seat of government, they would acquire the habits of the place, which might differ from those of their constituents.”
George Mason advised limits on the number of terms anyone can be elected to Congress, “Nothing can be as essential to the preservation of a Republican government as a periodic rotation (of its members).”
I second Mason’s statement and go further to suggest that all levels of government should have “periodic rotation.”
Citizen legislators no longer exist on many levels of government. What was once viewed as a privilege to serve has been transformed by far too many political office holders into a lifelong career that pays dividends and benefits that most Americans do not enjoy.
In my opinion, limiting the terms of elected officials will produce citizen legislators of people who reflect the hardworking taxpayers in every home, on every street, and in every neighborhood of this nation; while career politicians produce legislators, who reflect special interests.
Term-limited elected officials would be more in harmony with public opinion, thus limiting the power of not only the elected official, but the power of the special interests he or she becomes obligated to.
Career politicians are not compatible with the vision of good representative government. As time goes on the career politician gives birth to a divide that disconnects them from the people they should be representing.
“Representative government, however, should be characterized by the close connection that must exist between the representative and the represented and aspires to minimize, rather than expand, the distance between the two. Simply put, professional politicians, who have spent careers in a ‘culture of ruling’ and who have become disconnected from the daily lives and struggles of the average American, do not understand the plight, the concerns, the needs, and the wants of their constituents.”-Author unknown.
I take no issue with elected officials who keep their commitment to the people on one level of government and upon the expiration of their terms decide to move onto another level. Experienced public officials are an asset to good government. However, once they have served a two-term limit one office, they should expect to move on.
It has been said that America begins in our homes and neighborhoods, in the living room and around the kitchen table. Now let me add, the American political system begins in our city halls where citizen legislators and not career politicians should be serving the people.
It was Lincoln who said of America, “No one is quite sure whether, in the absence of imaginative leadership, a government so conceived and so dedicated can long endure.”
Of course, he was referring to our federal government. But one can make that same argument for all levels of government as well.
Imaginative leadership would support term limits for the good of our nation, from the city halls across America to the Capital building in Washington, D.C.
Steve Rogers is a former Detective Lieutenant with the Nutley, New Jersey Police Department, a member of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force. Rogers served in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War era, achieving the rank of Sergeant. He was discharged from the Air Force in 1974 and became a police officer in East Orange, NJ. In 1976 he joined the Nutley Police Department, where he served until July 2011, retiring at the rank of Detective Lieutenant. In 1986 he graduated William Paterson University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice.
Rogers became an expert in Community Policing and wrote two books on the subject. He lectured throughout the country on the effectiveness of community policing and was invited to address the command staff of the Israeli Police Academy, in Israel. Rogers is currently serving his second term on the Township of Nutley Board of Commissioners. Elected in May 2012, he is the Director of Public Affairs.
Commissioner Rogers enlisted in the U.S. Navy Reserves in 1981 – and studied U.S. military intelligence and other national security subjects at many schools including the U.S. Naval War College Newport, R.I. In the mid 1980’s he was assigned to brief U.S. military personnel on military matters related to the Soviet Union and other nations hostile to the United States.
Soon after the terrorist’s attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, Commissioner Rogers was recalled to active duty and assigned to the U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence in Norfolk, Virginia. He was promoted to the rank of Lt. Commander and assigned to the U.S. Northern Command as a Senior Naval Intelligence Officer for the FBI National Joint Terrorism Task Force in Washington D.C.
America Winning Coalition EMPOWER Magazine is committed to educating and empowering citizens to participate in America’s political process by addressing public policy issues, engaging political leaders, and advancing the values in which our nation was founded upon.