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Should All Political Offices Have Term Limits?

If you’ve ever had your time in the spotlight, you know that it doesn’t last forever. Just ask any one-hit-wonder band. But through re-elections, some politicians can keep their spot for a pretty long time. Should we have laws to cut them off before they overstay their welcome? On this Millennial Minute, we hear from podcast host Christian Watson and author Hilary Levey Friedman.

In 1995, the Supreme Court said that states can’t impose term limits on their U.S. senators or representatives. According to Levey, a lot of people support term limits because lawmakers have more than enough time to figure out the system and make changes. Are term limits crucial to the American Republic? Some say yes, and some say no. Here are two main arguments. 

Argument No. 1: Do conversations like term limits take away from real issues?

Watson believes that people argue about “lazy things” when they don’t want to take any responsibility. The idea of our “republic” is built on the direct participation of the people. He says that if an elected official didn’t do their job, it’s the people’s job to vote them out.

On the other hand, Levey believes that this is an important issue. Ultimately, they allow space to cultivate new leaders instead of keeping the status quo. Enforcing term limits would give people a much-needed change even if they don’t realize it themselves. And it would create urgency, replacing lame-duck sessions with “political courage.” 

Argument No. 2: Is it too expensive to take on an incumbent?

Levey asserts that campaigns are expensive, and it’s difficult to run against an incumbent who has plenty of connections and donor dollars. Elections are actually really expensive for individuals. This is the main barrier to new political competition. Incumbency is powerful. 

On the other hand, Watson says that there will always be groups that support candidates, so term limits won’t erase the need for buckets of money. 

What do you think? Should term limits be standardized across the board? To learn more about this topic, check this out.

For more Millennial Minute debates, click here.

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