Argument: Term limits ensure politicians understand private sector

Issue Report: Term limits for legislators


In the introductory essay in The Politics and Law of Term Limits, coauthors Ed Crane and Roger Pilon wrote, “Stepping back from these policy arguments, however, one sees a deeper issue in the term-limits debate, an issue that takes us to our very foundations as a nation. No one can doubt that America was dedicated to the proposition that each of us is and ought to be free–free to plan, and live his own life, as a private individual, under a government instituted to secure that freedom. Thus, implicit in our founding vision is the idea that most human affairs take place in what today we call the private sector. That sector–and this is the crucial point–is primary: government comes from it, not the other way around. When we send men and women to Congress to `represent’ us, therefore, we want them to understand that they represent us, the overwhelming number of Americans who live our daily lives in that private sector. Moreover, we want them to remember that it is to that private world that they must return, to live under the laws they have made as our representatives. That, in essence, is the message implicit in the growing call for term limits. It is not simply or even primarily a message about `good government.’ Rather, it is a message about the very place of government in the larger scheme of things. Government is meant to be our servant, to assist us by securing our liberty as we live our essentially private lives. It is not meant to be our master in some grand public adventure.”[1]