The Need for Term Limits in Congress

Speech 9: Argumentation
Prof. Stasio
Copyright © 1996 B. A. Collie Collier
This was an impromptu 2 to 4 minute speech presentation on an assigned topic. The components of a good speech are still written down in italics within the paper, in the hopes that someone may find them useful. However, don't expect the following to be terribly polished. ;-)

Proposition: The federal government should impose term limits on federal representatives in both the House and Senate.

Attention Getter: Recently I was reviewing the credentials for various delegates for one of the California federal seats. I was shocked to read that there was an individual running for Congress, who believed that AIDS was an air-born virus sent by god. I was further shocked to realize that this person was not only an incumbent, but had been in office for almost a decade!

Preview: Currently there are no term limits. Incumbency gives a statistical advantage to those already in office against new aspirants to the job. Thus once someone selfish, immature, or prejudiced is in office, it is relatively easy for them to stay there.

This would be fine if we only had true statesmen in the government. However, there are so many examples of self-serving politicians that don't care about their constituents (unless they're rich) that the American public has ceased to believe or trust their elected officials. The phrase, "We're from the government. We're here to help," has become a joke.

Problem: Currently our elected officials know that once they're in office they can usually hold onto their seat for as long as they wish. They've ceased to pay attention to their constituents' needs, and they hold office only to pad their pocketbooks and to make connections for later, more lucrative non-government jobs. We need to do something to prevent this kind of stagnation. Limited terms would keep this from occurring.

Reason#1: More turn over means the dead wood won't be allowed to stagnate in office for decades. True, the really good politician must leave after only 2 terms also... but when was the last time there was a really good politician?

Reason #2: More turn over will allow -- make it necessary for -- more people to run for office. In order to gain votes, these aspiring politicians must listen to their constituents. That will allow a wider variety of persons, opinions, and economic classes to possibly serve, and for constituents to actually have their concerns addressed.

Counterargument: It could be said that this is taking away the freedom of choice of the American people. If they don't want someone in office, they'll vote them out. However, I maintain that frequently people don't have time to properly research each of the applicants for each of the offices. This means, unfortunately, that frequently unqualified, prejudiced, or selfish people manage to slip unbeknownst into office. Once there, they are frequently very difficult to root out.

Solution: Establish a 2 term limit on the House and Senate.

Clincher: With 2 terms being the most anyone can hold, elected officials will have to concentrate more on their jobs if they want to accomplish anything, leaving them less (or hopefully no) time for campaigning, doing speeches for money, doing publicity tours for books they've written, or taking long vacations at the tax payers' expense.

Call to action: Get the dead wood out of office, and let more people serve. Get some fresh ideas and some new faces into the government. Let's see what everyone wants to accomplish, not just what older, rich white males think is good for the status quo. Vote in term limits. If we don't, we've only ourselves to blame.

Last Updated: Fri, 1997-Aug-01