Tackle term limits

Beyond DeMint's heroic fight, states should quash career politicians

One talk show pundit likes to say “We’re looking out for you!” Usually, when someone says that, it’s nonsense.

It wouldn’t be in the case of Jim DeMint. The South Carolina senator really is looking out for you.

Besides pushing his colleagues for fiscal sanity, individual liberty and other traditional American values, DeMint is one of the biggest champions for term limits – which, it is becoming clearer by the day, will be necessary to save America.

Career politicians in Washington are destroying this country with their imperialistic rule and their spending – which is fueled in large part by the desire to pander to their states and districts for votes, and to special interests that pad their campaign war chests.

They’re using our money to stay in power.

The careerism also is a big reason our politics are so toxic in Washington. Careerism not only fuels the insatiable desire for permanency, but it also encourages finger-pointing between the parties: The best way to set themselves in quick-dry cement is to find an enemy and tell you that you need them up there fighting him!

Plus, after going to battle against each other for several decades, you can see how personal relationships might be somewhat frayed.

The only answer is a return to the citizen legislature our founders thought they were creating.

DeMint, bless his heart, introduced a term limit amendment to the Constitution last year. This past week, he fought to have the Senate express symbolic support for the measure, in an amendment to another, quite popular, bill outlawing insider trading by members of Congress.

Unfortunately, the truth is that he stands little chance of ultimate success; he has but 10 co-sponsors on the amendment itself. And consider: If such a measure doesn’t pass this year – an election year in which the public has a historically dismal opinion of Washington and members of Congress would like nothing better than to make themselves look better for the folks back home – it will never pass.

Happily, the alternative, granted by our founders, is actually in our own hands. Like Dorothy in Oz, who always had the power to go home, we’ve always had the power to amend our Constitution – with or without the assent of Congress.

Congress may initiate a constitutional amendment, as DeMint is seeking, with the vote of two-thirds of each chamber; after that, three-fourths of the state legislatures – 38 of them – must also approve it.

But the states also may initiate the constitutional amendment process, if two-thirds of them – 34 – order Congress to call an Article V convention. In this process, Congress is largely reduced to a facilitator role. Once a convention produces an amendment, 38 states can ratify it.

Certainly the convention route is fraught with some peril; some fear it could produce amendments unforeseen and unwise. Others – including this page – believe otherwise, that the purpose of an Article V convention could be tightly conceived and controlled. Moreover: If the amendment is a bad idea, it will hardly get the support of 38 state legislatures!

So, while we appreciate the heroic efforts of Jim DeMint – one of the few in Congress who really are looking out for you – it’s pretty clear what has to happen.

We’re going to have to look out for ourselves.

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