Friday, October 23, 2009
Term Limits: An Excuse For the Public To Be Lazy
I always love to hear the discussion about term limits. You know the things that limit how long a particular person can hold a particular office. Some places have them; some places want them. To me: I think that term limits are just an excuse for a lazy electorate.
I know that sounds a little Republican or Libertarian of me, but I think it's true. While many offices are term-limited, many others have built-in term limits in this country, and it's called the political process. It's the job of this electorate to be informed, to be knowledgable, to be engaged and, most importantly, to be ACTIVE. No matter how much money or time or volunteers or political capital a politician has, votes win elections. Unfortunately, for Democrats, we saw what a switched on and angry electorate can do when a superior candidate and leader like Bart Peterson was tossed aside for the unknown commodity named Greg Ballard. It was bad for us, but it was a great argument against term limits. The electorate thought it knew what was best and tossed the incumbent to its own detriment.
Term limits are an excuse. They are a crutch. They give Joe Blow from Kokomo the ability to take elections off and the ability to sit back and not worry about who or what he's voting for. They give Jane Doe from Delphi a pass to be disconnected and uninvolved. Heck, she might not even vote.
Term limits might rob us of the very best of what the Statehouse, City-County Building, or Washington has to offer. Term limits favor the upstarts over the incumbent even when the incumbent may be what's stable and better for the country. Look back at 2000. We traded the stable leadership of Bill Clinton for the unknown commodity of George W. Bush. Our terror policy went from being a cabinet level priority to being ignored. We know what happened.
That's why I don't believe in term limits. I believe in people, the electorate, and the political process. If a state wants to send a racist like Strom Thurmond or Jesse Helms to the Senate, then that's that state's problem. You get what you vote for. Of course, it works in the opposite way, too. While I don't agree with Richard Lugar all the time, you can't argue that he hasn't been an effective Senator for Indiana over time. He continues to be effective today.
Sometimes it just takes getting the electorate a little ticked off to get the change we think we all need. That is the best kind of term limit...when a politician that has been getting away with things for years finally gets tossed out on his or her ear. Dan Burton...I'm talking to you. And, in his case, it might be his own party that does it. Term limits would have deprived us of watching Brother Dan run for his political life this year. He may still win, but he's even more damaged for the next time around if it's close.
I know many of you may disagree with me, but that's my story...and I'm sticking to it...at least until my term is up.