Some historical background on the topic is listed below. We are just coming off a period where we had a mayor serve for 22 years. Do you think he was at the top of his game near the end of his last term? Do the citizens deserve better?
I am not saying that he was not committed to the betterment of Chicago. He was very committed. What I am referring to is the human condition known as burnout caused by years and years of giving it your all. He may have been mentally exhausted in the end. Too exhausted to be at the top of his game.
There is also the concern that long-term politicians have been known to lose touch with the citizens for various reasons not worth mentioning here. How can we protect ourselves from long-term politicians and ensure that we have the best and the brightest leading the way. Maybe the founding fathers had it right. Public service for a few years and get out. Let someone else, someone with some better ideas possibly, give it a try.
Wikipedia:Term limits, or rotation in office
, date back to the American Revolution, and prior to that to the democracies and republics of antiquity. The council of 500 in ancient Athens
rotated its entire membership annually, as did the ephorate in ancient Sparta
. The ancient Roman Republic
featured a system of elected magistrates—tribunes of the plebs, aediles, quaestors, praetors, and consuls—who served a single term of one year, with reelection to the same magistracy forbidden for ten years. (See Cursus honorum)
According to historian
Garrett Fagan, office holding in the Roman Republic was based on "limited tenure of office" which ensured that "authority circulated frequently," helping to prevent corruption
An additional benefit of the cursus honorum
or Run of Offices
was to bring the "most experienced" politicians to the upper echelons of power-holding in the ancient republic.
Many of the founders of the United States
were educated in the classics, and quite familiar with rotation in office during antiquity. The debates of that day reveal a desire to study and profit from the object lessons offered by ancient democracy.
In 1783, rotation experiments were taking place at the state level. The Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776
set maximum service in the Pennsylvania General Assembly
at "four years in seven." Benjamin Franklin's
influence is seen not only in that he chaired the constitutional convention which drafted the Pennsylvania constitution, but also because it included, virtually unchanged, Franklin's earlier proposals on executive rotation. Pennsylvania's plural executive was composed of twelve citizens elected for the term of three years, followed by a mandatory vacation of four years.
On October 2, 1789, the Continental Congress
appointed a committee of thirteen to examine forms of government for the impending union of the states. Among the proposals was that from the State of Virginia
, written by Thomas Jefferson
, urging a limitation of tenure, "to prevent every danger which might arise to American freedom by continuing too long in office the members of the Continental Congress...."
The committee made recommendations, which as regards congressional term-limits were incorporated unchanged into the Articles of Confederation
(1781-1789]). The fifth Article stated that "no person shall be capable of being a delegate [to the continental congress] for more than three years in any term of six years."
In contrast to the Articles of Confederation, the federal constitution convention
omitted mandatory term limits from the second national frame of government, i.e. the U.S. Constitution
of 1787 to the present. Nonetheless, largely because of grassroots support for the principle of rotation, rapid turnover in Congress prevailed. Also, George Washington
set the precedent for a two-term tradition that prevailed (with the exception of Franklin Delano Roosevelt
's four terms) until the 22nd Amendment
However, when the states ratified the Constitution (1787–88), several leading statesmen regarded the lack of mandatory limits to tenure as a dangerous defect, especially, they thought, as regards the Presidency and the Senate. Richard Henry Lee
viewed the absence of legal limits to tenure, together with certain other features of the Constitution, as "most highly and dangerously oligarchic."
and George Mason
advised limits on reelection to the Senate and to the Presidency, because said Mason, "nothing is so essential to the preservation of a Republican government as a periodic rotation." The historian Mercy Otis Warren
, warned that "there is no provision for a rotation, nor anything to prevent the perpetuity of office in the same hands for life; which by a little well timed bribery, will probably be done...."
The fact that "perpetuity in office" was not approached until the 20th century is due in part to the influence of rotation in office as a popular 19th century concept. "Ideas are, in truth, forces," and rotation in office enjoyed such normative support, especially at the local level, that it altered political reality.
For a detailed study of the 19th century concepts of rotation let the reader consult Political Science Quarterly
, vol. 94, "House Turnover and the Principle of Rotation,"
by Robert Struble, Jr. See also his Treatise on Twelve Lights
chapter six, "Rotation in History"
. Consult also, James Young's The Washington Community, 1800-1828
According to Young, the tendency to look with mistrust upon political power was so ingrained into American culture that even the officeholders themselves perceived their occupations in a disparaging light.
An article in the Richmond Enquirer
(1822) noted that the "long cherished" principle of rotation in office had been impressed on the republican mind "by a kind of intuitive impulse, unassailable to argument or authority."
Beginning about the 1830s, Jacksonian democracy
introduced a less idealistic twist to the practice of limiting terms. Rotation in office came to mean taking turns in the distribution of political prizes.
Rotation of nominations to the U.S. House of Representatives – the prizes – became a key element of payoffs to the party faithful. The leading lights in the local party machinery came to regard a nomination for the House as "salary" for political services rendered. A new code of political ethics evolved, based on the proposition that "turnabout is fair play."
In short, rotation of nominations was intertwined with the spoils system
In district nominating conventions local leaders could negotiate and enforce agreements to pass the nominations around among themselves. Abraham Lincoln
was elected to the United States House of Representatives
in 1846 under such a bargain, and he returned home to Springfield
after a single congressional term because, he wrote, "to enter myself as a competitor of another, or to authorize anyone so to enter me, is what my word and honor forbid."
During the Civil War
, the Confederate States
constitution limited its president to a single six-year term.
The practice of nomination rotation for the House of Representatives began to decline after the Civil War. It took a generation or so before the direct primary system, civil service reforms, and the ethic of professionalism worked to eliminate rotation in office as a common political practice. By the turn of the 20th century the era of incumbency was coming into full swing.
A total of 8 presidents served two full terms and declined a third and three presidents served one full term and refused a second. After World War II
, however, an officeholder class had developed to the point that congressional tenure rivaled that of the U.S. Supreme Court
, where tenure is for life.
"Homesteading" in Congress, made possible by reelection rates that approached 100% by the end of the 20th century, brought about a popular insurgency known as the "term-limits movement". The elections of 1990-94 saw the adoption of term limits for state legislatures in almost every state where citizens had the power of the initiative. In addition 23 states limited service in their delegation to Congress, with the general formula being three terms [six years] in the U.S. House and two terms [twelve years] in the U.S. Senate.
As they pertain to Congress, these laws are no longer enforceable, however, as in 1995, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned congressional term limits, ruling that state governments cannot limit the terms of members of the national government.
Where rotation in the legislative branch has withstood court challenges, term limits continue to garner popular support. As of 2002, U.S. Term Limits
found that in the 17 states where state legislators served in rotation, public support for term limits ranged from 60 to 78 percent.