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10.01.2008 0

Chalk One Up to the Good Guys

  • On: 10/21/2008 20:02:52
  • In: Term Limits

  • Believe it or not, sometimes the good guys do win.

    In a recent showdown in Memphis, Tennessee last week, proponents of limited, fair, and responsible government squeezed out a narrow victory with a 50.3 percent to 49.7 percent win on term limits. The defeated Ordinance 360, which was originally crafted to fix a number of non-term limits-related issues, was drawn up to sneak in an extension from two to three four-year term limit for elected Shelby County officials.

    In classic democratic fashion, however, voters caught on to the shell game and responded with an emphatic “No!”.

    Although there is cause for celebration, victory was not the forecasted result. In fact, if it hadn’t been for the unrelenting vigilance of a host dedicated citizens, Memphis politicians would be kicking back in their desks right now relishing their extended grasp of power.

    The startling truth behind this narrow win is that that County Commission-sponsored measure to weaken term limits was cleverly hidden amongst a mass of other cluttered items in the ordinance. For the average voter examining the ordinance, the lengthy and jargon-filled text bore no upfront indication that such a measure to extend the power of their elected officials was even on the ballot in the first place.

    Containing no less than thirty provisions dragging on for several pages, the amendment to Ordinance 360 was very confusing to voters. Such sweeping changes ought to be voted upon piecemeal, but instead officials tried to force Shelby County voters to take all or nothing.
    In typical political fashion, the County Commission had tried to pull the wool over the eyes of their uninformed voters.

    Thanks to a dedicated few, voters rejected the sweeping ordinance.

    One such dedicated group is US Term Limits, a grass-roots movement dedicated to the placing of term limits on elected officials, local, state, and national. According to their website, US Term Limits has seen fifteen state governments enact term limits legislation as well as the city councils of eight of the ten largest cities. In addition to national issues, such as attacking presumed Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama’s assault on Congressional term limits, the group also is deeply concerned with local state and county issues as well.

    For US Term Limits, the situation in Memphis was another crucial battle worth fighting for the sake of limited government and individual freedom.

    Upset over the ordinance—which stood in clear defiance the will of the voters, 82% of whom in 1994 voted overwhelmingly to enact two four-year terms for their public officials—US Term Limits openly opposed the proposed legislation. Through press releases and other means, the group engaged the local community and encouraged grassroots opposition to the County Commission’s blatant disregard for the will of the people.

    Another such figure and proponent of democracy is Tom Guleff, informed citizen, activist, and blogger behind Mr. Guleff, acting as a concerned citizen, sought to sound the alarm and bring the issue to light.

    Motivated not by self-interest, but by a broader dedication to essential American values, Mr. Guleff saw a battle that needed to be fought and subsequently dove right in. Using his blog, youtube videos, and more, Mr. Guleff helped bring this issue to the forefront of the debate.

    As he said regarding the defeat of Ordinance 360:

    “The first battle has been won…we have got to be constantly vigilant because these people will keep overturning what the citizens have voted for. The citizens must constantly work at this. It’s one battle after the next.”

    Citizens of Shelby County can rest assured that when the next battle flares up—which could very well be in November—concerned people like Guleff and dedicated groups like US Term Limits will be there to inform the public of Big Government ruses unfolding in the shadows.

    And then, once again, the good guys can finish first.

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