Most people would agree with Richard Cohen {''It's Time to Limit Terms,'' op-ed, Dec. 7}. This nation must do something about the nearly insurmountable electoral advantages that incumbent members of Congress now enjoy. But limiting the number of terms incumbents can serve seems to me a classic case of overkill.

For one thing, as Mr. Cohen admits, good legislators would be thrown out with bad ones. For another, as David Broder wrote in a column Dec. 5, that ''do nothing'' bunch of incumbents in the 101st Congress actually did a much better job than most people realize.

What's more, term limitation is a solution that focuses on the wrong problem. I don't believe the American people are angry at incumbent politicians per se (for all the blather about throwing the bums out, 96 percent of them were returned). Rather I believe they are angry at the electoral process, which is so unfairly stacked in the incumbents' favor that the voters don't believe they have any real choice.

Thus a solution should be targeted at the process, not at the politician. And as it happens there has been for quite some time a solution that does just that. It is called campaign finance reform. Simply eliminate the huge advantages incumbents have in both the raising and the spending of campaign contributions, and you will have made the electoral process more fair.

The result would be campaigns in which the voters got an equal chance to hear both the incumbents and the challengers tell their side of the story as well as weigh the advantages of ''experience'' versus ''fresh blood.'' While Mr. Cohen and others believe such a choice is denied the voters now, they should remember that term limitation would also deny the voters such a choice.


David Broder continues to miss the point on term limitation. His op-ed column "Congressional Sham, Public Cynicism" {Dec. 9} makes the case for campaign finance reform but criticizes term limitation as "irrational" and "punitive."

It is neither. Term limitation addresses a fundamental problem that no amount of campaign finance reform will solve -- the "hunger for reelection," as Mr. Broder himself characterizes it. It is this hunger that causes members to be obsessed with cultivation of special and local interests and results in the pandering and opportunism that too often get in the way of serious legislating.

Would making reelection more difficult make this situation better? Of course not. It is more likely that increasing the vulnerability of incumbents would make them even less inclined to exhibit statesmanship on the tough and politically risky issues that need to be addressed.

Term limitation is a necessary complement to campaign finance reform. Term limitation says to the incumbent that no amount of pandering, opportunism, symbolism and risk avoidance will sustain your incumbency forever. With a career in Congress no longer at stake, perhaps more elected officials would be inclined to "do the right thing."