Dennis Deery

A super-majority perhaps?

March 25, 2010

We hear a lot of talk around election time about term limits for Congresspersons. People are concerned about long-serving elected officials losing touch with their constituents, and about the difficulty of unseating incumbents due to the advantages of running as an office-holder. I’ve never been a fan of the idea of term limits. I think there’s much to be gained from some of the long-time office-holders developing a large skill base in dealing with issues. I think if the American people bothered to be more informed and active in elections then the issue of long-serving incompetents would decrease. I do realize that’s not likely to happen, but a guy can hope.

With that in mind, an idea occurred to me. Perhaps, instead of instituting hard term limits, we could institute a super-majority requirement. For example, for any Representative running for a 3rd term, require them to gain 60% of the votes cast for the office rather than 50%. The same could be done for Senators. We could even look at increasing the super-majority threshold for each additional term - say, 65% for a 4th term, 70% for a 5th term. With such a system popular (and hopefully effective) office-holders could serve more terms, while incompetents would find a much harder threshold to cross. Ideally, this lower threshold for opponents would stimulate more challengers to get involved.

What do you think? I’ll admit I’ve not looked at the numbers to see what these changes might mean based on past election returns, but it’s something to think about.

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