The late Senator Robert Byrd served 57 years in Congress. An astounding accomplishment: one man represented his State for over one-third of it’s 146-year existence and for nearly two-thirds of his life. While many of Senator Byrd’s achievements are remarkable, I’m fairly certain our Founders never intended for any individual to sit in Congress for a period long enough to measure more than half their lifetime. I doubt they considered a time would come when men and women would desire to make a career of politics. Insomuch as our Founders set the age of eligibility for a Senate seat at 30, at a time when the average lifespan was well under 50; a certain degree of term limit was not only implied, it was virtually guaranteed.
Advances in modern medicine have extended our lives to lengths the Framers could not have dreamed of. Had they imagined a time when a lady or gentleman could hold a seat—any seat—in Congress for more than half a century (or that anyone would want to), I’m certain they would have included a limit of some kind.
Fixing Term Limits in 2016
I propose a limit of 12 years. That would be two terms in the Senate, or 6 terms in the House of Representatives or a combination of both. Afterwards, one’s career as a politician on the national level would be essentially over. The only exception being a run for the White House. This would, of course, apply only to federal government; the States may set whatever limit they see fit upon their own legislators.