I keep hearing the hue and cry for term limits. It is one of the most intellectually dishonest political arguments that can be made. And if you think “term limits” is a good idea, then I am talking to you. Term limits presume that a politician will be corrupt — a truly hypocritical way to think about the people you elect and then blame for living down to your preconceived notion. Term limits make the false promise that somehow new blood will be different; never mind what they may have had to promise to get elected and to whom. But, wait…you, in effect, elected more corruptible people to replace the corrupt people — so are we supposed to believe that corruption works on some kind of magical timetable that adherence to a constitutional mandate will remedy? Will we avoid political malfeasance? Of course not! So what have we gained through term limits if we do not insist that the rascals be thrown out when they offend anyway? Term limits solve nothing.
The call for term limits is nothing more than the bleating of an electorate that doesn’t want to take responsibility for the choices it makes (oh, please don’t make me vote for Strom Thurmond again! whimper ). I don’t agree with the 22nd Amendment, but I understand why it was enacted. The end result is inevitably that I will be denied the right to vote for the candidate I support because the expiration date came due regardless of performance.
I care about neither man, but you can’t say that the replacements for Charlie Rangel or Barney Frank will be any better than they were, it will just be someone else — maybe someone you like. Because as long as you have a party system that insists upon adherence to the party line, well… a rose is a rose is a rose. And nothing, then, has really changed except voting ratios. And if term limits do not assure in any meaningful way a means to better, honest, and open governance, then what do they truly accomplish?
The only things that will affect change in Washington is cutting off the influence of monied interests and limiting power of elected officials and agencies and paying attention to what those elected officials and agencies are doing. You know what truly makes a difference? Accountability. Without accountability, term limits are just so much symptom-treating without addressing the real problems and haven’t we had enough of that? Do we have the courage to actually insist that our elected officials work for us rather than for whomever has the biggest wallet?