San Francisco, one of America’s most iconic cities, is in decay. Smash-and-grab robberies and open shoplifting have forced businesses to close, law enforcement has tied hands, and urine, feces and the used syringes of zombie drug addicts litter the streets.
Yet one of the leaders of the decline, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 83, who represents San Francisco, announced this month that she will run again for office. Or, in perhaps a slip of the tongue, she says she has “agreed to stay on another term,” assuming it’s a foregone conclusion that the position is hers.
“Now more than ever our City needs us to advance San Francisco values and further our recovery,” Pelosi wrote on social media.
“Our country needs America to show the world that our flag is still there, with liberty and justice for ALL. That is why I am running for reelection — and respectfully ask for your vote.”
Nancy’s announcement that she wants to turn all American cities into San Francisco should be sufficient impetus for Americans to demand term limits. But, there are many other reasons we need to implement term limits now. Restoring the concept of public service in public service positions is one. It should be anathema to every American citizen that too many elected officials enrich themselves by way of public office.
Contrast today’s “public servants” to those of the past. For example, President Harry S. Truman, after leaving office, returned to Independence, Mo., with his wife, Bess, to the humble home they’d had since 1919 when they married.
Today’s presidents are quite different. The Obamas have multiple homes, including houses in Washington, D.C. and on Martha’s Vineyard worth $20 million. They also have another three-acre, multi-million-dollar property on Oahu and still own their Chicago home. The presidency made the Obamas extraordinarily rich. The insidious, deep-rooted corruption that has come with entrenched politicians is perhaps nowhere greater on display than with Joe Biden, who has been in elected office for 50 years.
Fellow Democrat Pelosi is no exception. San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in which to live, and through the years of Pelosi’s time in elected office, she and husband Paul have amassed wealth of an estimated $120 million to $290 million today, depending on the source. According to Open Secrets, the Pelosi net worth was an estimated $115 million in 2018, up from $101 million in 2013 and $24 million in 2009. The annual salary of a member of the U.S. House of Representatives is $174,000; for Speaker of the House, $223,500. Pelosi served as speaker from 2019 to 2023. Pelosi has been in elected office since 1987, or for 36 years.
In 1951, a two-term limit was established for the presidency, but no limits were set for Senate and House members, although term limits of six years for members of Congress were discussed in 1945. In more recent years, an amendment to the U.S. Constitution was proposed in 2017 to limit the number of terms members of Congress could serve. In January this year, Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) and Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine), along with 43 cosponsors, proposed term limits via H.J. Res. 11.
This month, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) accused House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) of not adhering to agreements made in January this year during the fight for the House Speaker position, which included pushing forward on term limits. Whether Gaetz’ loud reminder will have an impact or not is to be seen. But change cannot come too soon.
Pelosi has held elected office for nearly four decades. Among others past their expiration dates are Sen. Mitch McConnell (81) – now showing health issues impacting his job performance – in office for nearly five decades; former San Francisco mayor Dianne Feinstein (90), the oldest U.S. senator (only a few months older though than Chuck Grassley) and visibly displaying cognitive issues after a stroke (if not before) which kept her out of office for months; Sen. Grassley (90), in public office since 1959; and Rep. Maxine Waters (85) who has occupied a seat in the House of Representatives for 17 terms and been cited for ethics violations and was named one of the 15 most corrupt members of Congress by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
An argument can be made there’s value to having lawmakers in office who have experience navigating Capitol Hill, but there’s a much stronger argument to be made for limiting years in office. Too many senators and representatives have used their positions of power to enrich themselves, which means decisions are made based on their personal interests and aggrandizement, not the interests of America and Americans.
Term limits are a long overdue course correction, one Americans appear ready for. A University of Maryland poll this year found that 86 percent of Republicans and 80 percent of Democrats support a constitutional amendment to set term limits.
“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” said Lord Acton, a British Parliament member (1859 to 1866). There’s little evidence that statement isn’t true when looking at some of America’s elected office holders. To some extent, enacting term limits may curb the scheming time available to devote to personal enrichment.
Maria Fotopoulos writes about the connection between overpopulation and biodiversity loss. Contact her on Facebook @BetheChangeforAnimals and firstname.lastname@example.org