10.01.2008 0

Term Limits Found to be Vastly Unpopularamong Outgoing Politicians

  • On: 10/22/2008 14:16:33
  • In: Term Limits

  • The New York Times has declared that term limits for elected officials are on the defensive all across the United States. It seems the “Old Gray Lady” might need to replace her spectacles because she’s obviously not seeing clearly.

    Yesterday’s article, entitled “Across Country, New Challenges to Term Limits,” presents the argument—or, more accurately, the opinion—that term limits for politicians are coming under heavy fire and are increasingly regarded as unpopular.

    And, in a way, the New York Times is right: Term limits are vastly unpopular—among those politicians whose terms are about to expire. (By the way, the New York Times also recently reported that the sky is blue, the Pope is Catholic, and that chickens do, indeed, cross the road.)

    Perhaps the Times ought to change its slogan to “All the vacuity that’s fit to print.” Let’s put it this way: if the “Old Gray Lady” had a mascot, it would be a sloth.

    In trying desperately to make its case against term limits, it does so by quoting a host of wannabe career politicians. Those quoted include the mayor of San Antonio, Texas; a councilwoman from Tacoma; the Rowlett, Texas mayor; the mayor of Memphis; a State College Pennsylvania Borough councilman; officials in New York City; and a D.C. councilman.

    The New York Times ought to be applauded for impeccable journalism. This is akin to making the case against eating steak and quoting half a dozen cattle as authoritative sources.

    As the mayor of San Antonio—whose term is almost up—argued making his own case as a slow learner:

    “It has been an unmitigated disaster for the city…The learning curve of how city government works and how to get things done is steep, but when you keep putting people in, and throwing them out, there is very little accountability.”

    And then there’s the councilwoman from Tacoma who worries that the ambitious projects she started—on a pedestrian and bike trail, predominately—won’t come to fruition if she is forced to leave office. As she says:

    “That is when I thought, ‘This is crazy.’ If I go away, and it’s not completed, what will happen?” [Presumably, bikers will have to stay to the right.]

    Best of all, however, is the Georgia State University Professor John Clayton Thomas, whose lone quote in the article boldly proclaimed:

    “There is definitely a backlash against [term limits].”

    Other than these endangered politicians, from where is this definite backlash coming, Professor Thomas? The New York Times writers certainly don’t provide any other credible objections to term limits. Not even a poll showing a lack of support. The only non-political elite or ivory tower dweller quoted in the article, chairman of U.S. Term Limits Howard Rich, came out in obvious favor of term limits.

    The bottom line is that whenever a politician or government attempts to rid themselves of term limits, it is always in direct opposition to the will of the people. When term limits are put to the test and placed on the ballot, they win over and over again. Just look at the plethora of recent cases in which the people voted in favor of term limits.

    Last year, voters in Maine overwhelmingly declared their ongoing support for term limits. The victory was by a staggering 66 percent to 33 percent margin. The time overlooked this triviality; guess their reporters were too busy interviewing career politicians in Rowlett, Texas, and Tacoma, Washington (not to mention Ivory Tower types who confuse proclamations with erudition).

    Similarly, in February of this year, California residents voted 53 percent to 47 percent in favor of keeping their term limits in place.

    And then there’s South Dakota, a state whose politicians have engineered an up-or-down vote to repeal term limits this November. As early polling suggests, South Dakotans have no intention of letting their leaders topple term limits and rule indefinitely. A “backlash” of 64 percent of them has made this clear.

    Movements to repeal term limits should therefore be viewed for what they are: a direct attempt to subvert the will of the people. These politicians are either narcissistic elites—such as Councilwoman Connie Ladenburg who worries her walking and bike path can’t be completed without her. Or they are cunning deceivers—such as D.C. Councilman Jack Evans who circumvented voters by changing term limits through the City Council. As Mr. Evans nefariously and condescendingly stated:

    “Nobody ever raised it—and I was the guy who proposed it…[change term limits] quickly and get it out of the way…People have a short-term memory.”

    Politics is supposed to serve the people, not the politicians. Government was never meant to be a venue through which power-hungry individuals can sculpt a life-long career. Charlie Rangel, Ted Stevens, and Kwame Kilpatrick should be testament enough.

    Those who openly oppose term limits are either simply fooling themselves—or deliberately trying to fool the people.


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