Let’s Talk Term Limits and Aging

 

Dave and I were discussing politics during dinner the other night. This is why I need Prevacid daily! These types of conversations have quadrupled since January, and I know you all know why.

 

Registry Room at Ellis Island

 

 

The primary focus of our conversation was about age in government. It seems like Congress resembles the old guys in the balcony on the Muppet Show. Crotchety old men.

Even though the average age in Congress is mid 50’s to upper 60’s, it seems older. This is probably because the ones with the most power to wield are the elders. We all know the older you get, the more set in your ways you become.

That’s why it’s important to learn new things, challenge ourselves regularly and, for me, it’s important to have friends who are younger. I’ve always hung out with a younger crowd. I think it might be because I was thrown into adulthood at a very tender age and, as Merlyn told King Arthur, I may be youthening. 😉

I have to admit the youthening part is mental and definitely not physical, but as the old saying goes, ‘You’re only as old as you feel.’ Some days I feel ancient but, most of the time I feel youthful.

The age issue in Congress is not just a Republican issue. It is on all sides. When you have old folks, who are completely set in their ways, good luck changing their minds.

On the Democratic side, there may be some who seem more open-minded and willing to bend than there are on the Republican side, but still, when I think about 2020 I feel most will be too old to run for President.

I don’t think voting for someone who is in their mid to late 70’s is in our best interest. And, I’m not just talking about the President, I mean Congress, too.

I feel we desperately need diversity and young civic-minded people of both sexes running for office. So, how do we make it happen?

Wouldn’t it be great if Bernie, Biden, Hillary, and Warren started grooming some of the brightest up and comers? The ones who have had leadership positions since high school and are civic-minded. They could help them become city council members and mayors in their community.

It seems that once you’ve been bitten by the political bug it becomes a journey and it is definitely time to start passing the torch to these people. It takes time to build up the stamina and toughen the skin. Now seems to be the best opportunity to groom the next class coming up.

As many of you know, I am a fan of Cory Booker. He became my Senator when we moved to NJ, and I think his story is pretty special. We know there are more like him who simply need a little nudge to follow his lead.

It takes stamina to run for office, even if it’s dog catcher, but you have to start somewhere. I would love to see the seasoned politicians offering a hand up to the newbies in Congress. I’m sure some of them do, but some of them think it’s still ok to run for President at 79 years old. That’s foolish, in my opinion.

Now, let’s talk term limits. Variety is the spice of life, as they say, except in old-school politics. I think, with two-year terms in the House of Representatives, I would feel comfortable with four terms. The Senate term runs six years so, I would allow them two terms.

Having limits brings fresh minds into play and, I feel, we need that. Once their term is up, they can still be involved as lobbyists, or go home and mentor the next generation. Keep the pipeline going and encourage others to get involved.

I would like to believe that both sides would work closer together if you didn’t have the lifetime members dictating how it’s done and, refusing to reach across the aisle.

I know this is a pipe dream but, aren’t we their bosses? Isn’t that what representative means? They represent US…U.S. Keeping it as fresh as the Presidency makes the most sense to me.

Your turn! Let’s discuss, and share if you want to expand the conversation.

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16 comments

  1. Haralee

    I agree with age limits. I know I am not as sharp or as agile. Why should members of our government be any different? Their benefits make it very easy to retire well off. I know many hospitals ask physicians to test when they turn 70 for their hospital privileges. It is a matter of liability.Perhaps the members of our government be given the same tests as new citizens?

    • Barbara

      I completely agree, Haralee, on the age test requirement and having them take the same test as new citizens! Hell, our ‘ahem’ president couldn’t pass that test!
      b

  2. Jan

    Term limits have to be voted in by the people who would be limited. There is little hope that they will want to give up power. A sad truth.
    Grooming the young needs to be done. The grooming should be in home states so the Washington mess does not get used to manipulating them. K street money does weird things to good people.
    Hope Someone is actually listening.

    • Barbara

      Excellent point, Jan. Bringing these young people up as civil servants is kind of like grooming them for the bigger venue. And, if it’s done in their home state they have a better chance of not being manipulated as they would in D.C.
      Thanks for contributing to this discussion!
      b

  3. Marie

    In general, I agree with age limits for elected officials. There certainly have been past incidences of men staying in positions well past their capability. There is a problem with term limits. It is not easy to be an elected official and the learning curve is very steep and time consuming. You might find that you do not get the best people going into politics if the possible time in office is too limited. Think about a physician, construction supervisor or a teacher. Experience enhances the value of the needed skill set.

    • Barbara

      Marie, I understand what you’re saying but, I disagree about term limits. It might very well encourage more people to enter the arena if they were doing it for the good of the country and not as a sacrifice in their life. A lot can be accomplished in eight years, I believe, if you are focused on the issues that get you elected, meaning you’re following through on your campaign promises that got you elected. Perhaps, if you were limited to eight years but, could run again after sitting out a term we could stop all this insider madness we have now.
      b

  4. Lee Sequeira

    The old guys on the muppet show would be better in the the white house than the current clown-filled car…in fact, any muppet would be an improvement.

    • Barbara

      Kermit would be my choice, but Fozzy Bear would be a fun VP!
      😉
      b

  5. Pia

    I love Cory and like you would vote for him for dog catcher if I could. The single best president in my lifetime was Barack “It’s” Obama(s) “fault” The other two were JFK, though it was far from Camelot, and Bill Clinton. LBJ too if I want to be honest but the war skewered things-shockingly he was only in his 50’s when he became president. To 13 year old me he was ancient.
    Back to the present. I would vote for Joe Biden in a hot second and he was born in 1942. However he’s an exception. I would want a complete real physical (unlike that person in the white house’s) and a mental competency exam–there are some very good ones. I might not be as sharp as I was, that doesn’t mean others aren’t. Plus I would want any candidate to pass these exams and write essays on foreign affairs, domestic problems, and more that were done in a room where they were alone with a monitor. Maybe video ones too. Let people see what their knowledge base is and how they present themselves. I know debates are supposed to do that but really–Hillary was totally prepared and he!!!!!! (I don’t know why I think this will be better but anything for a change–but debates also–ones where the moderators and people asking the questions are picked at the last moment so their questions couldn’t be leaked.
    Term limits–yes, yes, and yes. I don’t think that experience is necessarily a virtue in the House or Senate–and a term limit of 12-16 years (house, senate) is plenty for experience. The thing is there are some exceptional people in Congress–John Lewis, Jim Clyburn here, and I would hate for them to go. But most should so yes I believe in limits.

    • Barbara

      Pia, I think it would be ok to run again once you sat out a term. Maybe that would bring them back to reality, which we know doesn’t exist inside the beltway, and put them in touch with their constituency. You’re right about some of the people in Congress being exceptional but, I think they would understand the importance of stepping back and looking in. In turn that would help keep everyone’s mind fresh. Plus, we need some of those good people bringing fresh blood to the table by mentoring.
      Thanks for your thoughtful contribution here! Always appreciated.
      b

  6. Bob Lowry

    Term limits could help with one of the major reasons younger people don’t get involved: money. To run for office is insanely expensive, so only those with decades of contacts and political favors can afford to run, and run, and run again.

    As one of the commenters noted, experience would be lost if there were more frequent turnover. But, I would argue that experience isn’t always what it is cracked up to be. Experience may be just another word for rigidity.

    • Barbara

      It could get tricky if the serial congressional members, after having to leave, would then try to ‘buy’ a replacement. I’m sure it could happen, but I don’t really think it would be the norm. Instead, in my utopian world, I would hope they could mentor the young people and promote public service. I know, I know, it’s a pipe dream but, something definitely needs to change. If we learn anything from the insanity that has taken over our government it is how badly we need CHANGE.
      b

  7. Laurie Stone

    I so agree with this. Where’s the youth that we need running for office? I don’t see anyone. I cringe when I see these high-level government meetings and they’re all old men with the occasional older woman. There’s not enough females and not enough youth. Yuck.

    • Barbara

      We have become the capital of old white men and I’m sick of it, Laurie! There are more women than men in this country, let’s get out front and speak out! As for the younger generations, I think we really need to encourage and help them get involved. As Bob Lowry said, it’s very expensive to run for office and sustain it but, I would jump at the chance to support a smart young woman, or man, running for office. That’s what fundraisers should be for. Not supporting some old coot who’s been around for 2 generations!
      Thanks for contributing!
      b

  8. Tom Sightings

    I’ve found that one thing both liberals and conservatives agree on is term limits. It’s a good idea to have a few gray beards in Congress, to keep things sane; but you’re right, there are way to many of them who are way too set in their ways. P.S. But they’re not all men. The oldest member of the Senate is 84-year-old Dianne Feinstein.

    • Barbara

      I know, Tom, and she is considering running again! But women do outnumber men in this country except in government, it seems. When you add it all up, every part of our government needs balance and change.
      And, why is it if both sides agree on term limits it never gets instituted? Why?
      b