Argument: Term limits create turnover that encourages new candidates


“5. Term Limits and the Need for a Citizen Legislature.” CATO Handbook: “Finally, the shorter limits for the House are guaranteed to enhance the competitiveness of elections and, as noted above, increase the number and diversity of Americans choosing to run for Congress. As Paul Jacob of U.S. Term Limits has pointed out, the most competitive races (and the ones that bring out the largest number of primary candidates) are for open seats. At least a third of all House seats will be open each election under three-term limits, and it is probable that as many as half will not feature an incumbent seeking reelection. We also know from past experience that women and minorities have greater electoral success in races for open seats.

The incentives for a citizen legislature are significantly stronger under the shorter limits. Six-term limits are long enough to induce incumbents to stick around for the entire 12 years. Three-term limits are short enough to prompt incumbents to return to the private sector before spending six years in the House. Under a three-term limit we will witness a return to the 19th-century norm of half the House being freshmen–a true citizen legislature.

In addition, the next most competitive races are incumbents’ first attempts at reelection and the races just before retirement. Thus, under a three-term limit virtually all races for the House of Representatives will be more competitive than is the case today or would be the case under six-term limits.”