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At the founding of our country, we had thirteen sovereign states come together and create a new federal government.  These sovereign states were desirous of building a common defense, improving trade amongs themselves and with foreign nations.  The states held that a representative form of government was needed and that a House of Representatives, similar to the lower or “people’s” house of England, the House of Commons, was needed to ensure that the peoples wishes were heard at the new federal level.

However, these states wished to only cede limited power to this federal government.  They knew that a local form of government was best for local issues and that the federal government was only necessary to handle the larger defense and international issues.   These states knew that they would be sharing power with the people under this new federal arrangement.  The intent was for both the people and the states to remain masters of the new federal government.

To accomplish this new limited power arrangement, the founders, representing the states, created a senate.  Under this arrangement the senators would be elected to their federal senate position by the legislatures of the “states united” for a six year period.  The founders placed some key controls in the new constitution to insure that the federal government could not usurp the states and take on un-ceded power, which could and would make the states subordinate to the federal government.

The new senate was given the sole right to try all impeachments, approve treaties, and approve the appointment of ambassadors, public ministers, and consuls (counselors to the president), Supreme Court and inferior court appointments, and officers of the federal government, all with a two thirds approval.

This new senate was specifically provided these controls over the federal government to ensure that the power ceded to the federal government remained limited.  Beyond these specific controls over the president and the federal government, the founders knew that having senators appointed by and representing the respective states would insure that the federal government answered to the states and would remain subservient to these states.

For added measure the founders, more correctly the early Congress and the States, added an amendment in the Bill of Rights.  Number ten states: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

This power sharing arrangement worked very well from 1787 through 1912 – 126 years.  It was not until a populist progressive movement got a headwind from the Hearst newspapers around the country that a push for the people to directly elect their senators became a seemingly correct thing to do in a democracy.  Remember, we are a republic and that Randolph Hearst and the progressives stirred up public opinion to believe that there was no reason why in a democracy the people should not directly elect the senate.

The real motive was to have the Hearst publications, at that time found in most states, drive public opinion to select Senators suitable to Randolph Hearst and the progressives – the goal was to enlarge the federal government and to remove the necessary control of the states.

The seventeenth amendment was ratified in 1913, thus ending the careful plans of the founders to ensure balance between the states and the federal government through power sharing.  Today, Senators are subject to the will and money of lobbyists, rather than the will of their state.  Some Senators have created a power base so strong that they have been in office for more than forty years.

If you really want to take back your government, then you must repeal this ill advised amendment, stampeded through ratification by, Big Government Progressives (read “What The Progressives Want”) holding public office at that time and most importantly by the highly influential Randolph Hearst and his powerful national dailies.

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Professional Congressmen – Why?  Today there are 251 members of the House of Representatives serving for more than ten years or five terms.  This is nearly 58% of the House of Representatives.  Remember the House is the people’s house and the representatives serving in this house were intended by our founding fathers to be of the people and from the people.  When representatives serve in the House for more than two terms they become insolated from the people.  They begin to work the system for their own benefit and not for the benefit of their constituents.  Mostly this is caused by the treatment they receive from lobbyists and the personal wealth they begin to obtain.  The more time in the House, the more power they can build and the more they can build an organization that will keep them being reelected, by making contribution connections – contributions most often originating out of their district.  This means that they are now representing contributors of other districts and not the people of their district.  The old adage that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” is simply how our Congress works.

The numbers about tenure become more frightening as you look at the more senior members of the House.  Today there are 42 Democrats and 20 Republicans serving for more than twenty years.  Nineteen representatives, fifteen Democrats and four Republicans, are now serving for more than thirty years or an unconscionable fifteen terms.  Two Democratic representatives are serving for more than forty years.  The number and dollar amount of earmarks is almost in a direct ratio with the time in Congress and the power achieved. As a Congressman delivers more earmarks, they build a contribution base and name recognition to aid them in reelection.  Remember that many of these earmarks are payback to political contributors and are not in the best interest of the district, the state, or the country.

Still not convinced that this professional Congress needs to change?  Consider that these people represent old thinking, with little recent real world experience or real world business or management skills, and a heavy dose of cronyism.  Most committee chairs are based on longevity and have the power and connections to kill bills or fast track bills on their own.

The Senate, the upper house with longer six years terms, suffers it own brand of professional legislator.  Ten Democrats and zero Republicans are now serving for more than twenty-four years or four terms in the senate (update – 9 with the loss of Senator Kennedy).  Of this group, three members are serving for five terms or thirty years and three are serving for more than thirty-six years or six terms.

Only fifty-four members of the House are freshman representatives (32 Democrats and 22 Republicans).  This group represents little more than 12% of the House.  In reality, there are enough members of the House of Representatives serving longer than most members of the Senate that determining which body is the upper house or the lower house is difficult.  Statistics indicate that voters (that’s us) return their Congressman and Senator to Congress at an alarming repeat rate of over 90%.  Does this absurd unrealistic return rate represent a love affair of the voter with his or her representation or does it reflect a broken system where power makes it nearly impossible for an incumbent to lose and allows little opportunity for new blood?

When did serving in Congress become an occupation? When did it stop being a noble calling of fellow citizens who put real careers on hold to serve their country for a limited time?

If we are to have a country of the people, by the people, and for the people, then we must make changes.  Congress will not change on its own.  We need term limits applied to both the House and the Senate. We need to limit both Congressional Representatives and Senators to no more than two consecutive terms – but how?  We need a constitutional convention called by the states with two goals.  The first is to limit congressional terms and the second is to make changes to reinstate state’s rights over a massive out of control incompetent federal government.  Return this country to the vision of the founding fathers.

Contact your representative to your state’s legislature (not your U.S. representative) and push for your state to call for a constitutional convention to achieve these two goals.

Listed below are the twenty year plus Congressmen and women who have been in power far too long and need to move on to a real job, if they are able.  They are grouped by state with party affiliation and district following the name.  Those with 30 and 40 years in Congress are so indicated.  Click on the name and see a summary of the rereprsentative’s background and congressional status, including committee assignments.

If you wish to breakdown your Congress by other attributes than term go to Contacting the Congress: Power Search.

Twenty Years Plus
Representative Don Young (R – Alaska At Large) 30 Yrs
Representative Wally Herger (R – CA02)
Representative George Miller (D – CA07) 30 Yrs
Representative Nancy Pelosi (D – CA08)
Representative Fortney (Pete) Stark (D – CA13) 30 Yrs
Representative Elton Gallegly (R – CA24)
Representative David Dreier (R – CA26)
Representative Howard L. Berman (D – CA28)
Representative Henry A. Waxman (D – CA30) 30 Yrs
Representative Jerry Lewis (R – CA41) 30 Yrs
Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R – CA46)
Representative Cliff Stearns (R – FL06)
Representative C. W. (Bill) Young (R – FL10) 30 Yrs
Representative John Lewis (D – GA05)
Representative Leonard L. Boswell (D – IA03) 30 Yrs
Representative Jerry F. Costello (D – IL12)
Representative Peter J. Visclosky (D – IN01)
Representative Dan Burton (R – IN05)
Representative Harold Rogers (R – KY05)
Representative Richard E. Neal (D – MA02)
Representative Barney Frank (D – MA04)
Representative Edward J. Markey (D – MA07) 30 Yrs
Representative Steny H. Hoyer (D – MD05)
Representative Dale E. Kildee (D – MI05) 30 Yrs
Representative Fred Upton (R – MI06)
Representative Sander M. Levin (D – MI12)
Representative John Conyers, Jr. (D – MI14) 40 Yrs
Representative John D. Dingell (D – MI15) 40 Yrs
Representative James L. Oberstar (D – MN08) 30 Yrs
Representative Ike Skelton (D – MO04) 30 Yrs
Representative David E. Price (D – NC04)
Representative Howard Coble (R – NC06)
Representative Christopher H. Smith (R – NJ04)
Representative Frank Pallone, Jr. (D – NJ06)
Representative Donald M. Payne (D – NJ10)
Representative Gary L. Ackerman (D – NY05)
Representative Edolphus Towns (D – NY10)
Representative Charles B. Rangel (D – NY15) 30 Yrs
Representative Eliot L. Engel (D – NY17)
Representative Nita M. Lowey (D – NY18)
Representative Louise McIntosh Slaughter (D – NY28)
Representative Marcy Kaptur (D – OH09)
Representative Peter A. DeFazio (D – OR04)
Representative Paul E. Kanjorski (D – PA11)
Representative John P. Murtha (D – PA12) (update – now deceased) 30 Yrs
Representative John M. Spratt, Jr. (D – SC05)
Representative John J. Duncan, Jr. (R – TN02)
Representative Bart Gordon (D – TN06)
Representative John S. Tanner (D – TN08)
Representative Ralph M. Hall (R – TX04)
Representative Joe Barton (R – TX06)
Representative Lamar Smith (R – TX21)
Representative Solomon P. Ortiz (D – TX27)
Representative Rick Boucher (D – VA09)
Representative Frank R. Wolf (R – VA10)
Representative Norman D. Dicks (D – WA06) 30 Yrs
Representative Jim McDermott (D – WA07)
Representative F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R – WI05) 30 Yrs
Representative Thomas E. Petri (R – WI06)
Representative David R. Obey (D – WI07) 30 Yrs
Representative Alan B. Mollohan (D – WV01)
Representative Nick Joe Rahall, II (D – WV03) 30 Yrs

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