It can easily be said that over the past few years Americans’ love toward Congress (and politicians in general) has plummeted and is now perhaps at an all-time low. Many factors outside of party policy contribute to this disenchantment, some of which may include congressional pay, time spent campaigning versus actually working for constituents, big money donors (big money influence), number of vacation days, pensions and other perks, career politicians, corruption, ugly rhetoric, lack of compromise, etc. The list goes on.
One thing is clear from a recent VeraQuest poll among 1,509 adults – Americans (Republicans and Democrats alike) would prefer term limits for elected positions within the federal government. The vast majority prefer a limit on the number of terms that a person can serve in the position of U.S. President (84%). And about three-quarters feel that there should be a limit on the number of terms members of the House of Representatives (74%) and Senate (74%) can serve. In terms of what those term limits should be, as you’d expect, opinions are wide-ranging and without real consensus, especially for members of Congress.
For the position of President, the current maximum of two 4-year terms is preferred by the most Americans (36%), followed by four 4-year terms (15%).
For members of the U.S. House of Representatives, only 5% prefer the current unlimited number of 2-year terms. Instead, more Americans would rather see a set maximum of two 4-year terms (16%), four 2-year terms (13%), or four 4-year terms (12%), among other scenarios.
For U.S. Senators, only 3% prefer the current unlimited number of 6-year terms. Instead, more Americans would rather see a set maximum of two 4-year terms (15%), four 4-year terms (12%), or two 6-year terms (11%), among other options.
Once appointed, U.S. Supreme Court justices serve until retirement, resignation, or death. But only one-quarter (25%) of Americans feel this should be the case. Just over three-in-five (61%) feel that there should be a limit to the amount of time U.S. Supreme Court justices can serve in this role. The preferred term limits are wide-ranging here too, with the greatest number of Americans preferring a maximum of two 4-year terms (11%) or four 4-year terms (9%).
In terms of what type of career experience our President/VP should have, in order to best serve our country… just over half of Americans (52%) feel he or she should have a mix of political and non-political career experience. Almost one-third (32%) feel the President/VP should have very strong political sector experience (i.e., career politicians), while 16% feel no previous political experience would be best. Republicans and Democrats have the same overall feeling on this matter, though Republicans do have greater preference for seeing non-politicians in the President/VP role (17%, versus 12% of Democrats).
As for desired career experience for members of Congress, over half of Americans (58%) feel he or she should have a mix of political and non-political career experience. Then it’s more evenly-split between those who feel career politicians would best serve our country in this role (23%) and those who feel that a career completely outside of politics would be best (20%). Republicans have greater preference for seeing non-politicians in Congress (24%), compared to Democrats (15%).
To what extent do you consider political vs. non-political backgrounds when placing your vote in elections? Do you feel that shorter or longer term limits are more effective in higher government positions?