The longest serving senator in the U.S. Senate, Robert Byrd of West Virgina, passed away last night at the age of 92. Mr. Byrd was elected to the senate in 1958, and served continuously from that time for a grand total of 52 years.
That's just wrong.
When the framers wrote the Constitution, and put together our representative republic, I don't think they had being a representitive or senator down as a life long profession. I think they were thinking that a person would serve for a limited time and then return to their home and resume their normal profession and life.
It hasn't worked out that way at all. Once people get the taste of the Washington life, there they are, for the duration. Robert Byrd got in. He never got out. He liked the power. He liked the acclaim. Robert Byrd figured out the way to get reelected too. Bring home the bacon ($$$) to his state. Running against him must have seemed almost disloyal to some in West Virgina.
By the way, I'd be saying the same things even if I mostly agreed with his politics. I just don't think our representatives need to be in Washington forever. I think they need to be cycled out on a regular basis.
Beyond the old and feeble problem--Mr. Byrd certainly did get old and feeble--I think being in Washington causes isolation from the real world. How can you be in touch with the common people when you have a 6 figure salary, two homes, great insurance, and everyone kissing your ring (so to speak)?
So, yes, I'd like term limits. It doesn't have to be super short, just enough of a limit so that you can't be in the Senate for 52 freakin' years.
That's just too long.
Photos: via Google search Associated Press--top, 1960. Middle--1985. A note: With the exception of Senator Dole, the two other men with Senator Bryd, Leahy of Vermont and Dodd of Connecticut, are still serving. Bottom--2010. Pretty feeble.