22 May 2018

The False Promise of Term Limits

The intuition behind term limits—the reason they’re popular with most Americans—is correct: Washington is broken. But there’s no easy fix for the problem; no one trick that will improve the status quo. And absent radical change to our constitutional architecture, the only path forward is incremental. Thankfully, there are steps we can take to improve Congress, reduce outside influence, and make elections more competitive. They run the gamut from beefing up congressional staff and research services—lessening reliance on lobbyists— and building more robust public and small-dollar financing of campaigns, to opening up our elections with universal voter registration, vote by mail, and robust voting rights, including felon enfranchisement. Redistricting reform matters too: More competitive districts means more competitive elections means a weaker incumbency advantage, or at least one not bolstered by gerrymandering.

Jamelle Bouie