Saturday, January 14, 2006

Tocqueville on term limits

A footnote to a paper on Thornton that I cannot find at present had the best argument for limiting terms. Tocqueville says that democratic rulers (congressfolk) lack the sense of history and self-control that aristocratic rulers can tap into; democratic rulers are also less adept in the science of legislation.

But while congressfolk frequently therefore legislate in ways that actually undercut the very cause they serve, that cause is at least their own. Since they are of the people,
Democratic laws generally tend to promote the welfare of the greatest possible number; for they emanate from the majority of the citizens, who are subject to error, but who cannot have an interest opposed to their own advantage.
Amar says we will have professional legislators no matter what: I think we can find ways, including term limits and competitive elections, to keep congressfolk as close to the people as possible, so that the above quote holds true.


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