Term limits. It’s a popular subject. Whenever government does something people don’t like the term limits cry rises again. And I get the sentiment, the frustration, really I do. People hate the Senator from their neighboring state because he “takes home the bacon” to their constituents, yet they love their own Senator because that person does… wait for it… exactly the same thing, they “bring home the bacon”. Throw in some onerous over-regulation and questionable pandering to special interests, and here we are. Hence, the “solution” to many people is term limits. Force them all out. Stop! We need to step back and think it all the way through. Would term limits really be a good idea? Would term limits give us the overall and overwhelming positive results we want?
Radcen the Contrarian doesn’t think so. In fact, I believe term limits would be a huge mistake. I believe the negatives would far outweigh the positives. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of term limits…
1) Weeds out career politicians. In theory. This is the primary argument for them. Get career politicians out of government and stop them from enriching themselves at our expense.
I think that’s it. <shrug>
A) Unknown replacements. Possibly… no, probably… hand-picked by the party, which would be just as bad, if not worse. The average voter is not likely to know who has been chosen for them.
B) Why do we think honest people would magically pop up and replace the dishonest career politicians? Going back to ‘A’ above, we are not guaranteed of any such thing. “Mr Smith Goes to Washington” it wouldn’t be.
C) People are selfish… and too often ignorant and easily-led. Reference back to when I said people like their own representative because they “bring home the bacon”. People vote their own self-interest and at the expense of everybody else. If people continually re-elect representatives they claim to not like now, they’re still going to vote for whoever promises them the biggest benefit, term limits or not.
D) Due to limited time in service, they’d be even more susceptible to influence and lobbying. We already dislike that career politicians feather their nests over decades. With term limits we’d have unknown people still being wooed by lobbyists and special interests. Human nature being what it is, and with a limited time in which to do any said feather nesting, they’d develop a “Get what I can while I can!” attitude. Short of illegality, they’d be even more outright dishonest. What’s going to happen to them if you the voter disapproves? They’re out in couple years anyway.
E) If California state government is any indicator, it’ll degenerate into “musical political chairs”… people would still elect the same people, just to rotating offices. Ergo, nothing really changes.
F) Takes away a person’s right to vote for whomever they want. This alone should be reason enough.
G) Term limits are lazy. Instead of encouraging engagement and participation, they discourage participation. We want our dirty work to be done for us. You want the politicians to sit up and notice you over the special interests? Reduce the re-election rate from 90% down to 50%. Then, they’d take us seriously.
In the interest of full honesty, I also advocate the repeal of the 22nd Amendment, which places term limits on the office of President. The people should be allowed to elect whomever they want, and whether we realize it or not, we do get what we want.