Public Outcry for Change: 87% of Americans Support Congressional Term Limits, Tennessee Responds
Our Founding Fathers understood that a system of checks and balances were needed in order to guard against the human frailties that lead to corruption. They knew that left unchecked, the human tendency is to consolidate and extend power beyond the bounds of justice. It’s no wonder, then, that as the country grew in population and our governments expanded with it, Americans took up the spirit of the Framers and established term limits on various offices.
In the 1950s Congress finally budged in response to a campaign to cap presidencies to two four-year terms. This was spurred on by the problems inherent in having a four-term president in Franklin Delano Roosevelt. FDR died in office shortly after his fourth inauguration. Before him, Theodore Roosevelt attempted a third term in the “Bull Moose Party” and party insiders had attempted to convince Ulysses S. Grant to consider a third term (Grant dismissed the idea, following Washington’s example of exiting after two terms). When the 22nd Amendment was
proposed by Congress, then-president Eisenhower, a proponent of the reform, expressed his disappointment that congressional term limits were not included.
Eisenhower was right—it was a great missed opportunity. In a steady trend toward
professionalization of Congress in the past 40 years, public faith in the institution is bottoming out. Just this month congressional approval fell to 13%. Without genuine competition for seats in the federal legislature, members have very little incentive to actually solve the nation’s problems and have every incentive to kick the can down the road indefinitely.
Thankfully, in Tennessee, one chamber of its citizen legislature overwhelmingly passed the U.S. Term Limits resolution for term limits on Congress. House Joint Resolution 5 cruised through the Tennessee House of Representatives by a whopping count of 66-27. The Tennessee state senate can finish the job in concurring in the resolution when they return in January. This would
make Tennessee the seventh state to call a convention to propose a term limits amendment. The public across party lines wants this—a mind-blowing 87% recently polled by Pew say they favor the measure. Now is the time for the state senate to listen to the will of the people and pass it.