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Definitive Proof We Need Term Limits


Recent polling shows that Americans think this Congress is the worst in their lifetime, yet nearly every incumbent who ran for re-election won their primary race.

(Source: Shutterstock)

I once moderated a candidate forum in Illinois for a state representative seat where the incumbent was running for his eighth consecutive term and had five challengers.

A question came up asking the candidates whether they supported term limits. The only person who said they didn't support term limits was the incumbent, stating, "We have term limits, they're called elections."

The most recent Pew Research Poll (July 14, 2014) shows that only 28 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of Congress. A recent CNN/ORC International Poll shows that 83 percent disapprove of the job Congress has been doing and 65 percent say this is the "worst Congress of their lifetime."

(Source: Shutterstock) (Source: Shutterstock)

With numbers like that one would assume members of Congress would be voted out in droves, right? Wrong.

The best chance to vote out a member of Congress would be in the primaries. Afterall, when the general election comes around Republicans vote Republican and Democrats vote Democrat even if they don't like the incumbent.

So now that we've completed the primaries for this year, how many incumbents were voted out? Suprisingly many of them were unchallenged, but the overall results are as follows:

U.S. Senate: Zero out of 25 races.

U.S. House of Representatives: Four out of 75 races.

The losses were U.S. Reps. John Tierney (D-Mass.), Kerry Bentivolio (R-Mich.), Ralph Hall (R-Texas), Eric Cantor (R-Va.).

That's right. America thinks Congress is doing a terrible job, yet we voted a whopping 4 percent of the incumbents, who ran, back in. With so much discord, disappointment and dissattisfaction for Congress, how can all of the incuments have been re-elected?

It's now left up to the swing voters in the general election to do what the political parties didn't do in the primaries: Vote the bums out. But history also shows that isn't likely to happen, at least not in droves.

AP Photo. AP Photo.

It's the same story every year and the reason we need term limits. The idea that "elections are term limits" is ridiculous considering this much animosity towards the incumbents yet they all get voted back in.

The only way incumbents get voted back in is if Americans just aren't paying attention at the polls. Term limits would at least provide turnover which is a start.

Robert Rees is a radio talk show host in Des Moines on 98.3 The Torch. tweet him @TheRobertRees

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