MINOT, N.D. — A petition campaign to implement term limits will be a big part of the debate in the coming election cycle in North Dakota.

The campaign, which at times has falsely portrayed itself as promoting term limits for Congress, is backed by out-of-state interests who have hired Minot-based, Trump-aligned Bastiat Caucus organizer Jared Hendrix as their in-state mercenary for the cause.

I oppose term limits. They represent an odious restriction on the electorate, born of the belief that voters are stupid and must have their options at the ballot box curbed.

Let me say that again: The proponents of term limits think you, the voters, are stupid.

We could all name politicians who we believe have been in office too long, but no politician can be in office for longer than the voters allow. As Mencken wrote, "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard."

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live
Newsletter signup for email alerts

I'll not sign on for initiatives that seek to protect voters from themselves.

But I am interested in something Sen. Bill Cassidy proposed in a recent interview, which is cognitive testing for officeholders.

"I'm told that there have been senators in the past who, at the end of their Senate terms, were senile," Cassidy, a Louisiana Republican, and physician, told the news website Axios during an interview broadcast on HBO. "I'm told that was true of senators of both parties."

What he proposes is an annual cognitive exam for members of Congress, the president, and even the justices on the U.S. Supreme Court.

It makes a world of sense, doesn't it?

President Joe Biden is 78 years old. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is 81. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is 79, and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is 70.

In the aggregate, the age of members of Congress has increased over the last 30 years.

In 1981, the average age of a member of the U.S. House was 49, and a U.S. senator was 53. Today those averages are 57 and 61, respectively, an increase that has far outpaced the rise in overall life expectancy in the United States which went from 73.7 years in 1980 to 77.8 years in 2020.

Currently, 50 U.S. senators are over the age of 65, and 13 are over 75.

Americans shouldn't be prohibited from casting a ballot for a geezer if they think that's the best use of their vote, but we could inform that vote with some insight into the mental acuity of those seeking election.

If the electorate still wants to choose some doddering carcass, manipulated through the duties of office by staff, "Weekend at Bernie's" style, then so be it.

Again, the voters deserve to get what they voted for.

Let's test Congress, the president, and the Supreme Court justices every year, and then make those tests public.

To comment on this article, visit www.sayanythingblog.com

Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at rport@forumcomm.com.