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The case for term limits is not as strong as some might think

The US Capitol in Washington.Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg

Experience matters. Cutting it short would be a cookie-cutter solution.

Jeff Jacoby misses the mark in “The case for term limits is as strong as ever” (Opinion, Jan. 12). Massachusetts voters want their federal elected officials to get things done and do not care if they are rookies or veterans.

Jacoby asserts that term limits “is one issue on which nearly all of us agree,” but readers of the recent Neal Gabler book “Against the Wind: Edward Kennedy and the Rise of Conservatism, 1976-2009” would probably disagree. If Jacoby had his way, term limits would have deprived the people of the Commonwealth of the decades of excellent public service that we enjoyed thanks to the labors of long-term officeholders such as Senator Kennedy, Senator John Kerry, and House Speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill.


Experience matters in mastering the intricacies of most fields, including government. Cookie-cutter solutions such as term limits may seem superficially appealing but they fail to address the problem of persuading good people to go to and stay in Congress.

Mark S. Sternman


There are other ways to address the advantages of incumbency

There has never been a case for supposedly defending democracy by limiting voters’ choices. Jeff Jacoby looks to term limits to resolve his concerns over the advantages of incumbency rather than to campaign financing laws and to the end of gerrymandering. Currently, the only place for term limits for federally elected officials is the presidency.

If presidential term limits had not been created by a constitutional amendment, it seems possible that the best candidate for the presidency in 2016 would have been available for a third term and we could have avoided the historic corruption and dysfunction of the Trump administration.

Yes, Jacoby is right, the unfair advantages of incumbency must be removed but not by the ultimate act of voter suppression: term limits.

Robert G. Bill



If power-driven members of Congress won’t budge, let’s push them

Kudos to Jeff Jacoby for laying out a strong case for term limits. What’s the next step? How do we persuade a sufficient number of 535 power-driven members of Congress to support an amendment to the Constitution that limits their tenure? A nationwide push? It’s time to move this forward.

Mark Allard


Lobbyists would love to see a crop of newbies to prey on

Jeff Jacoby believes that the case for term limits is as strong as ever, and in a way he’s right — the case has always been defeatist and weak, and it remains so. Legislators, like any other jobholder, gain experience and expertise as they continue in their job, and it makes no sense to kick them out just as they’re mastering it.

Imposing term limits is also a recipe for lobbyist domination. Since lobbyists don’t have term limits, and they gain expertise at their jobs, they’d be even better at outmaneuvering legislators than they are now.

It’s been said that we already have term limits; they’re called elections. What we need is better, fairer elections: ranked-choice voting, public campaign financing, a repeal of the Citizens United decision so that we can limit money in elections, and so on.

There are plenty of ways to improve our democracy. Kicking out the folks who know how to make it work isn’t one of them.

Sam Bayer