“No matter how passionately you might believe limiting people's choices will result in outcomes you like better, you are wrong,” writes libertarian, Jahfre Fire Eater in his opinion piece, “Why Term Limits Are A Bad Idea.” (RRND, 4/2/13)
“Once more I've been driven by ignorant comments from friends to point out the nonsense and crippled thinking that underlie the common tendency for folks to think term limits are a good idea,” says Fire Eater.
“Punishing voters by limiting their choice of representatives is not an effective way to change the behavior or quality of politicians, he opines. It is like punching your neighbor in the nose because their dog barks. In the end, you've made an enemy and the dog still barks. How anyone can think this is good idea in any situation is beyond me...yet, it is often the preferred option for most folks. Yikes! Where do these people come from?”
Well, I come from the same planet he does and I could hardly disagree more.
There are few things worse in my humble opinion than a career politician whose main focus while in office is the job of getting reelected to office. They should complete their limited terms and then get the hell out in favor of the next guy. They should be obliged to get a real job; start making an honest living, and quit sucking on the public tit.
The longer politicians stay in office the more the imperial power and trappings of office goes to their heads until they too often completely lose touch with the people they represent and come to regard their public office as a private fiefdom with which to enrich themselves at the expense of their constituents.
Public office holding should not be a professional career. That is precisely what corrupts politicians. The whole idea of public service is to represent the people as a servant -- not become the people’s master for profit. One need not be a genius to represent the people properly.
There are plenty of up and coming fine candidates who are perfectly fit to do the job of representing the people in matters of public policy. After all, public policy is not rocket science. We certainly don’t need a hardened aristocracy of parasitical politicians. We don’t need, and we don’t want kings, barons and dukes.
“Limiting terms just means voters will have to find their preferred kinds of candidates more often, meaning parties will have to produce them more rapidly, on a fixed schedule,” insists Fire Eater.
Is that a bad thing?
I think it’s a good thing.
Stupid and lazy voters have a tendency to regard the election process as a popularity contest in which the candidate with the most name recognition – normally the incumbent – gets their vote. They’re just too lazy to think about all the logical reasons to vote or not vote for this or that unknown candidate who might do a far better job than the predecessor.
They should be forced to think and make intelligent choices from a new crop of candidates every new election cycle instead of merely entrenching the power of the politicians they know.
“There is no connection between term limits and better candidates--no cause and effect relationship can be observed in this kind of common oppression-based force. It is purely a blindly outrage-driven vindictive pursuit, an oppressive reaction to outcomes some folks don't like,” says Fire Eater.
He doesn’t back that statement up with facts. Term limits have nothing to do with voter outrage and everything to do with curbing power. It’s about having politicians focus their time on the job at hand instead of on the next election. A term limited politician no longer has to pander or worry about whether doing the right thing will result in a loss of votes. They don’t have to face another election. They no longer need votes.
“Limiting people's choices never ensures better outcomes...it only ensures the continuous growth of government...which seems to appeal to most folks on the right and on the left,” claims Fire Eater.
Term limits don’t limit voter choice. Instead they have the effect of increasing choice because more candidates get the opportunity to seek the office. The more candidates seeking office allows more choice for the voters who have already exercised their choice with the incumbent. It’s time for the incumbent to bow out and make room for fresh blood to serve in the political process.
How does term limits ensure the continuous growth of government? Surely the opposite is true. It is the firmly entrenched politicians that get reelected year after year who keep the government growing in order to add to their power. Term limited politicians have no incentive to grow the government.
I believe, for example, that FDR’s unprecedented four terms as President of the United States was a bad thing for the country because it greatly expanded the power of the presidency and the executive branch of the government at the expense of the founding fathers’ intention for a proper balance of power between the three branches of government.
FDR was the closest thing to a monarch this country has ever had. His lengthy years in office allowed him to transform the nation from a country of liberty and free enterprise to a country on the road to socialism and statism.
Term limits might have prevented that.
That’s why term limits are a good idea.