The Libertarian Position on Term Limits

Should we put term limits on members of Congress?

This discussion has split libertarians the same way the government forced the break up of the Avengers. Which side will lead to the most amount of liberty?

Those in favor of term limits point to career politicians, in which 79 members of Congress began serving under Bill Clinton as of 2015.

Some familiar names include Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell, and John McCain. All are some of the worst people in Congress. Watch Rand Paul explain why he thinks McCain makes a strong case for term limits.

They also refer to something on my list of 21 Ways to Better Understand Politics. Point #10 which said politicians spend over half of their time in office fundraising for the next campaign cycle.

However, there’s an even stronger case against term limits. The most evident is heroes for the cause of liberty such as Rand Paul, Thomas Massie, and Justin Amash (and maybe Austin Petersen?) would be forced to give it up. Who knows if these people would be replaced by another candidate who values liberty.

Further is an idea first put forth by Hans Hermann-Hoppe in his book, Democracy The God That Failed. Hoppe argued that monarchy is superior to democracy because the private ownership of government generally lowered other’s time preference scales. Privately owning the government placed incentives upon the kings to get as much future value as possible, which spread throughout the kingdom. This translated into lower taxes, less total war, more savings and more respect for property rights, among other benefits.

Extrapolating from this logic, putting term limits onto members of Congress would raise their time preference scales even higher than they are now. In reality, you’d see politicians trying to do as much harm (in their mind, good) as they could before leaving office.

Since they wouldn’t have to worry about getting reelected, they would be even less accountable than they are now.

The best way to stop career politicians from eroding our liberty is to stop voting for the politicians who do it. More government is rarely a valid solution to a problem ultimately caused by government. In this scenario, it would backfire and end up hurting liberty more than intended.

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