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Usher the return of the citizen legislator by imposing term limits

First Posted: 5:52 am - July 5th, 2015

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For too long, career politicians in Washington, D.C., have focused more on advancing their own careers than helping the people they are elected to serve.

More than eight in 10 Americans believe that our political leaders are more interested in protecting their own power and privilege than doing what is right for the American people.

That’s just wrong. Now, more than ever, we should institute term limits for Washington politicians and return to the concept of citizen legislators.

Our nation has built up an $18 trillion debt. We face more than $100 trillion in future unfunded liabilities – related to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, federal pensions and interest on the debt.

Not only is the economy struggling, but Washington’s constant power grab through sweeping rules and regulations continues with complete disregard for the people they affect.

From the Internal Revenue Service to the Environmental Protection Agency, big government is taxing and regulating almost every aspect of our lives. Too many people are tangled in a web of dependency on government programs when what we need is to empower the individual.

We’ve got to change course before it’s too late. But we cannot get our country back on track when career politicians in Washington cling to failed ideas of the past, and cater to special interests that keep them in office.

I believe our Founding Fathers were committed to the concept of citizen legislators, and never imagined the rise of the career politicians who have created the constant gridlock crippling Washington today.

Historically, citizen legislators work outside politics and bring a fresh perspective to how burdensome government policies can negatively affect people’s everyday lives.

While in office, citizen legislators apply their practical experience to solving our nation’s toughest problems. Because they only serve a short time, citizen legislators are concerned about solving problems with a sense of urgency instead of kicking the can down the road because it makes for good politics.

As promised, one of my first official actions as Georgia’s newest senator was to co-sponsor a constitutional amendment imposing term limits on members of Congress – specifically, three terms in the House of Representatives and two terms in the Senate. I have personally committed myself to no more than two terms in the Senate.

Supporting term limits for elected officials is not a partisan idea. In fact, several presidents across the ideological spectrum and throughout American history – Jefferson, Lincoln, Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy – have supported term limits for Congress.

At the state level, Georgia already has citizen legislators who work full time and attend the legislative session only part of the year to serve their communities.

It won’t be easy to institute term limits at the federal level, however. The fight for term limits has been and will continue to be an uphill battle because of career politicians who survive on the status quo.

This flawed seniority system is based on years worked, but success should be measured based on the results produced. What we need in Washington are people more concerned about the next generation than the next election.

If we want to create a brighter future for Georgians and all Americans, we must continue to fight for real change through term limits. I will fight every day against Washington insiders, and hope you’ll join me in calling for the return of the citizen legislator.

David Perdue is the junior Senator from Georgia. He assumed his office in January 2015.

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