Make term limits kick in when national debt climbs

Abraham Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

Lincoln was speaking, in 1858, about those supporting or opposing slavery—the ultimate division in our land.

Today, our country is again divided. Cable news talking heads and politicians say it is Republicans versus Democrats, Conservatives versus Liberals, or as Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders has stated, normal versus crazy.

But those words mean less to the average American. Our country is built on families. It seems every extended family has Republicans, Democrats, Conservatives, Liberals, normal and even crazy people. Political identity may create some tension, but most still stick together as families.

The real division is—just as it was in 1858—an issue of justice. The house divided today is the average citizen’s expectation of fairness versus the powerful and elite’s flagrant disregard for fairness.     

Corruption is growing. It can be found within wasteful, trillion-dollar bills, bloated government bureaucracies, and “too big to fail” corporations bailed out by taxpayers.

There’s a lot of work to be done to reinstate fairness, and our elected representatives aren’t helping matters.

Think of the national debt as a corruption barometer. According to, the national debt is at 31 trillion. It’s a factual indicator of either complete incompetence or a clear abuse of power by the Beltway elites. What’s best for the country and its citizens takes a back seat to what is best for the politician and holding on to a powerful seat in Congress.  

Term limits legislation could take care of this problem, but it takes legislators to pass it. That won’t happen. And the argument that citizens can institute term limits through voting doesn’t always work that simply. Incumbents have name recognition and access to financial support that makes it difficult for them to be unseated.

But there may be another way—tie term limits to the national debt.

Start with a generous term limit of 18 years—three terms for a senator and nine for a representative. Then tie national debt performance to it after that. If debt is less than it was when the politician originally took office, an additional term will be allowed. And continued to be allowed as long as the debt continues to fall.  

Call it “qualifying term limits.” Make politicians qualify for the right to run for additional terms beyond 18 years.   

It would be an embarrassment for any candidate to refuse the idea of qualifying term limits. Wanting to hang on to a job after 18 years in which the national debt only increased—is just plain whining.  

Something more interesting could happen, though. Votes may no longer fall strictly along party lines. If qualifying term limits were in place, second thoughts might be given to recklessly spending trillions.  

Never underestimate a politician’s need for self-preservation.

When our national debt returns to zero, qualifying term limits would no longer apply. Politicians could stay for as many terms as they can get re-elected. It’s called a bonus for doing a good job.

Some will say that emergencies require policies that increase the national debt. But Americans know that most emergencies are greatly exaggerated by lawmakers.

It wouldn’t even take legislation to make qualifying term limits happen. Every member of Congress has an official website. Challengers running for office have websites, as well. During the next campaign season, pressure each candidate to make a public statement of support or opposition to qualifying term limits and to permanently post it on the website. It will make a difference to voters who expect fairness.  

Lincoln went on to state, “I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved. I do not expect the house to fall, but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other.”

This nation cannot endure with the average citizen seeking fairness and a land it is proud to pass on to the next generation while the powerful and elite seek personal gain at the destruction of it.

Let our beloved house stand for fairness.