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Tags: term limits | republicans | gop

Term Limits Dead As a Republican Issue

Term Limits Dead As a Republican Issue
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., answers questions during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

John Gizzi By Friday, 23 September 2022 05:41 PM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

The long-awaited "Commitment to America," which House Republicans hope will be a winning manifesto in midterm elections this fall, was unveiled Friday.   

Like its predecessor, the "Contract With America" of 1994, which Republicans rode to their first majority in the House and Senate in 40 years, the Commitment promises votes on key issues from crime to national security to taxes. 

Noticeable by its absence from the document is one proposal that many say was pivotal to the Contract's appeal 28 years ago: term limits for members of Congress, on which many Republicans successfully campaigned for the House that year and did actually vote on once in office.

In recent years, however, Republicans at virtually every level of office have abandoned the issue of limiting terms of lawmakers.

Newt Gingrich, who became speaker after the '94 elections, told Newsmax that "there was a dramatic drop for support for term limits after we won in 1994 because we had proven the people could have term limits at each election by just beating people."

Gingrich also noted that term limits enacted in states have had unanticipated negative effects. He cited California, which limits state assemblymen to three two-year terms and state senators to two four-year terms and forbids them from ever returning to the office once their limited tenures are completed.

In his words, "The experience of term limits in California has been maximizing the power of the lobbyists and bureaucrats while ensuring turmoil in the elected officials who barely learn how to legislate before being termed out."

Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif, who co-authored the strict term limits that were enacted by Golden State voters, agreed with Gingrich.

McClintock cited a 1997 speech he gave in which he concluded that "term limits increased the influence of the executive branch and its bureaucracy" and that they "produced politicians less likely to take principled stands and more willing to defer to the opinions of legislative leaders."

Referring to that speech, McClintock told Newsmax: "I wouldn't change a word since then.  It was a really bad idea. Mea culpa."

National conservative leaders also voiced the view that term limits had passed its prime as a campaign issue.

Virginia's Republican National Committeeman Morton Blackwell, a conservative activist since he was the youngest delegate to the 1964 GOP convention that nominated Barry Goldwater for president, said he tends "to be ambiguous on term limits for elected officials.  With no veteran, elected officials, the unlimited-tenured bureaucrats would run circles more easily around all the temporarily serving elected officials."

The rejection of term limits by conservatives comes, ironically, at a time when the issue is as popular among voters as ever. According to a just-completed McLaughlin Poll conducted for the U.S. Term Limits, 80.1% of voters support term limits on members of Congress and only 10.1% oppose them. 

"I don't think term limits have declined in popularity with voters," said businessman and longtime Republican donor Dan Eberhart, "'Throw the bums out' is always a favorite among voters. You just don't see candidates promoting it anymore. It doesn't work. Our existing system is built on seniority,  and… politics are much more partisan today. So people choose a team, not a candidate. As long as the candidate is on the right team, how long he's served isn't an issue with those voters."

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Noticeable by its absence from the GOP's recently-unveiled "Commitment to America": term limits for members of Congress, on which many Republicans once successfully campaigned.
term limits, republicans, gop
Friday, 23 September 2022 05:41 PM
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