"Legislators like pork because it helps them get reelected. They are interested in administrative details because long tenure promotes narrow specialization. The constituent service racket allows lawmakers to ignore big problems by fixing small ones. In becoming ombudsman -- glorified errand boys, -- incumbents build up enough good will for most to survive even a watershed year like 1992. By ending congressional careerism, term limits will encourage attention to larger legislative issues. By changing the understanding of the legislator's role, term limits are probably the most effective single reform that can be imposed on Congress. And imposed it will have to be: While great majorities of the American people support term limits, lawmakers oppose them in even larger proportions. With a career Congress, voters face a dilemma: They do not like paying taxes to Washington and hoping to get them back in the form of pork and entitlements, but as long as the system is rigged, it makes sense to vote for the incumbent to maximize your own take. Congressmen face a similar dilemma: Take the easy road to reelection or face the often difficult choices of balancing local and national interests. Take away the career mindset and both representatives and voters can make choices based on the merits of each case. ... In fact, one of the biggest benefits of non-professional legislators is that they would be unlikely to join with the bureaucrats and special interests in blowing smoke at the voters."
The Ruling Class, The Heritage Foundation, 1993.
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Reader comments about this quote:
Dang! Mr. Felton pretty much summed it up from every angle. Any legislator who would attempt to (vainly) refute this position may as well be trying to hold back the tide.
 -- Conanrx, Hickory, NC     
    Government issues and agencies etcetera are complex things. To think that a first term or one term legislator can sit on congressional oversight committees and be effective is naive. The quote does have many good points about pork barrel however. The Heritage Foundation is a right wing "think tank" supported by the likes of the Koch Bros and other billionaires and its writers and "thinkers" are careerists who must toe the bosses line.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
    10 Stars.. The lovely career folk in our congress buy OUR votes with OUR money. Let's send them home in November.
     -- jim k, Austin,Tx     
    Two terms maximum. Then out you go! Sadly some good people will be released from public service...but it's about the only way to eradicate the cancer that is the majority of Congress and the Senate regularly. Oh and just for fun, let's throw in a mandatory 10 year sentence for accepting a bribe.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
    Would any congressman or senator cut their own throat FOR THE PEOPLE???
     -- cal, lewisville, tx     
    yes, yes, yes!!!! We need to elect some real people (as opposed to career politicians), warts and all, and if/when they do not honor their Oath of Office and vote to support the US Constitution, they must be replaced with another. It is our fault this has happened...too busy living our lives, but now our lives are at stake, and we must restore our Founders vision or we will lose all hope of being free people.
     -- Abigail, Newport     
    As an individual that loves law, justice, individual unalienable rights and the Constitution, I am firmly opposed to term limits. Term limits, limit my personal choice (there is that rare honorable individual that works to serve his fellow man in uniquely administering the original intent of life, liberty, and property). Since there is no longer a constitutionally limiting representative republic, I understand the pragmatic necessity of term limits (sorta the lesser of 2 evils..
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    Waffler, there's some bona fide merit in your first 2 sentences, but how about some broader thought. Innumerable are the failures, and the varieties thereof, of good men/women who refused to acknowledge their vulnerability when playing with fire. Reasonable term limits would accomplish much good; such as 1) helping to keep otherwise good people good, 2) educating individuals who could then return to educate the hoi polloi. Imagine the benefit that numerous former elected and politically experienced individuals could provide for the electorate of their districts and states. 3) Force the lobbyists to seek honest employment. WOW! I love that one....and as you can see, the list could go on and on. Assuming the elected held office for the duration of their term, then they could endorse someone of like values, keen insight, and quicker reflexes. After passing the baton they could offer their services to their successor as a mentor or advisor and as mentioned before, position themselves among the public as educators who have "been there."
     -- Conanrx, Hickory, NC     
    Though Ben Franklin and Mr. Felton are a few centuries apart, both hit the bullseye of truth in their observations and insights on the human nature of Congress and its constituents. Structural guides/controls like checks and balances, term limits, transparency in decision making and similiar constraints are required to protect ourselves from ourselves. God Bless Mr. Franklin, Mr. Felton and all fellow patriots who have chosen to get informed, involved and activated to make a difference no matter how great or small. I salute them all! Semper Fi, Michael O, Conroe, TX
     -- Michael O, Conroe, TX     
    This is a freedom quote? Total bullshit. Term limits for Congress are antidemocratic and undercut republican government. It also means that legislators would be working overtime to enrich themselves while in office and guarantee their post-office careers with corrupt deals. Let's be honest. The only reason Republicans wanted term limits was to remove Ted Kennedy since they couldn't unseat him fairly.
     -- Jeremiah, Austin TX     
    I am torn on this issue. I realize the career politicians are among the greatest enemies of liberty. They know how to play games with the people and new congressmen who may be inexperience in politics. The most natural course to bring an elective government back within the will of the people is a change of men. However, ambition must be used to combat ambition. A congressman without the ambition of another term is not bound to the interest of the people. If another term is no longer an option, an official may turn his ambition to his own aggrandizement at the expense his constituents. Every president's approval rating plummets during his second term because he no longer cares what the people approve of. It's like when you give two weeks notice before quiting your job. Do you still work your hardest during those two weeks or do you just do whatever you want because you no longer have any ambition within that company? I'd hate for every senator's second term to be six years of a two weeks notice.
     -- Publius, USA     
    Jeremiah, you contradict yourself. Democracy and the Republic are two very different things. Democracy is a farce and our Republic disappeared a long time ago...but it's time to bring it back.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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