Term limits could have saved a life

March 31, 2010

In response to the article in the Sunpapers on March 30 concerning the call for congressional term limits ("Idea of term limits for Congress gets new wave of support), such a change in the Constitution seems highly unlikely. It was easy for Congress to vote for term limits for the president, since they were not affected. But it is virtually a certainty that today's self-serving politicians would ever seriously consider passing any sort of term limits that would effectively shorten their own careers. In fact most members of Congress seem to be almost consumed with following a course of action that strengthens their positions of power and helps them to get re-elected time after time.

When a politician today runs for Congress as a supposed proponent of term limits and promises to step down after a specified period, I am reminded of the story of Paul Wellsone of Minnesota. In 1990, during a previous period of advocacy for term limits, Mr. Wellstone ran for the Senate promising to limit his service to two terms only. The citizens of Minnesota actually took him at his word, and partially based upon this promise, he was elected in 1990. He ran again in 1996 promising to serve his one remaining term, and he won. But then in 2002, when his promised two terms were up, he decided that our nation's need for his services was so overwhelming that it justified breaking his word, and he ran for yet another term in the Senate.

Then in October of 2002, just before the election, he was tragically killed in a small plane crash while flying to yet another campaign stop. If he had kept his promise to limit his service to two terms, he would still be alive today.

Iver Mindel, Cockeysville

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