Letter to the Editor: We Need Term Limits in Congress


There is a concerted effort for a constitutional convention on term limits.

Let’s face it. Politics was never seen as a career by our founding fathers. George Washington refused a third term. In fact, he was supposedly offered president for life and, I’ve read, that it was even proposed to make him king. But he felt that while it was the duty of good citizens to give service to the country, he also believed that it should be for a limited time and then return to private life to live with what you had brought about.

But today, elected office is seen as a career. There was a saying going around when President Trump was first elected: “I would rather elect a billionaire who became a politician, than a politician who became a billionaire by being a politician.”

Elected office has become a wealth-generating occupation. And Congress has become a power center, with the power held by a few elected politicians who have been there long enough to create their empires, and little happens without their approval. Go against the power structure and you will never see a piece of legislation get voted on or become law. The power holders will see to it and have the power to make it happen.

Let me say that I am firmly in favor of term limits. I believe in the beliefs of our founding fathers. Serve a couple of years in service for the people then go home and live with what you did. But there is grave danger to our republic in a constitutional convention. The current effort that I’m aware of says that 100 representatives and senators have signed the term limits pledge. Terrific. But a constitutional convention opens the entire constitution to be rewritten, and therein lies the problem. Everything could become fair game. Gun ownership? Free speech? Freedom of the press (such as it is these days)? Right to confront your accuser? Right to a fair and speedy trial? The list goes on and on. And any or all could all be at risk.

So without a constitutional convention, how does it happen? It happens through public pressure on our elected representatives. Few are aware that Washington state passed a term limits initiative many years ago. However, Representative Foley from Spokane, who was speaker of the house at the time, sued and got it declared unconstitutional in a state court. The attorney general at the time chose not to pursue it any further.

To politicians it is fearsome, and they will do anything to defeat them. But we need to pursue it as citizens. The Initiative process is one way to force it. You can find a list of current initiatives on the Access Washington website. Check them out. It's interesting the ideas that are being suggested to the voters if they get enough signatures.


Bruce Peterson