Forty-Eight is Enough

Earlier this week, Robert Byrd of West Virginia became the longest-serving senator in American history, besting fellow Civil Rights laggard Strom Thurmond’s record. As Steven Taylor notes, such longevity in office is probably inconsistent with the intentions of the framers of the Constitution, who could rely on 18th century biology–and a minimum age of 30–to ensure a bit more turnover in the Senate.

While there are certainly powerful arguments to be made against artificial term limits for politicians (most notably because term limits inherently weaken political institutions, like second-term presidencies and the increasing number of state legislatures that have become subject to limits), at the same time it would be healthy for there to be a bit more turnover in office; it would be a remarkable person who could spend nearly 50 years as a political insider while retaining some semblance of what daily life is like for his or her constituents hundreds of miles away.

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Chris Lawrence
About Chris Lawrence
Chris teaches political science at Middle Georgia State University in Macon, Georgia. He has a Ph.D. in political science (with concentrations in American politics and political methodology) from the University of Mississippi. He began writing for OTB in June 2006. Follow him on Twitter @lordsutch.

Comments

  1. Don Surber says:

    So move to West Virginia and register to vote. I am only one man

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    As we’re seeing here in Cook County, physical impairment that precludes actually, say, doing the job is no bar to holding public office. I look forward to the day that incumbents in a persistent vegetative state will be re-nominated and re-elected while the local party bigwigs campaign for them saying “We can’t give up on him!” and “He’s not dead yet!”.