Thursday, July 12, 2007

Why We Need Term Limits

The Headmistress over at The Common Room had a really excellent post yesterday on why we desperately need term limits for all our politicians. The bottom line?

I am not aware of any period in this nation's history when war did not lead our politicians to amass more power unto the institution of government. In fact, I'm not aware of any time where any crisis, real or imagined, did not involve politicians using that opportunity to clutch a little more power unto themselves. It happens routinely, whether the politician is a 'nice' person or not. It doesn't matter what political party is in charge. It doesn't matter Institutions are self-perpetuating, and they do what they can to entrench themselves.

That's one reason why I think we need term limits.

I am also not aware of any politician able to stay in D.C. for decades and not lose sight of reality. They lose perspective. They lose the ability to connect with life in the every day lives of their constituents. They just don't get it. That's just human, you know? I find myself saying sometimes to people, "Oh, that was only five dollars," forgetting the time in our lives when the practical difference between five dollars and five hundred was negligible because they were each equally unattainable. We forget the intensity of what we once experienced every day. Politicians do, too. And they are surrounded by an artificial aristocracy in D.C. and they lose perspective. Bring them home. Force them back into private life.

She's right about that. It also seems to me that lawmakers would have much stronger incentives to keep the government limited and the laws simple if they had to live in the "real world" like the rest of us. If they knew they wouldn't be able to rely on the voters to support their lifestyle, they would perhaps be less willing to regulate everything under the sun.

I also think the term limits need to be uniformly applied; ALL lawmakers should be subject to term limits. Colorado currently has a term limits law; it limits our lawmakers to no more than 8 years in office (two 4-year terms or three 2-year terms). However, because Colorado is one of few states with term limits laws, which means our lawmakers rarely have the opportunity to become well-known in the federal government. About the time people begin to recognize their names, they are out. In my opinion, that's the way it should be for all politicians.

I feel less strongly about members of the executive branch being subject to term limits than I do about the legislative. Some functions of the executive branch demand expertise; there is little expertise necessary to simply pass the laws required to govern a free people.

Be sure to follow the link. The Headmistress has much more to say, including some great new suggestions. One of my favorites is this one:

Before approving any bill, the legislators must personally read every sentence in the proposed law, and demonstrate that they have read with comprehension by passing a test on the material. This is my favorite. I think I like it even better than term limits.

So do I.

1 comment:

southerngirlmusings said...

Thanks for the link, I will definitely check it out. I worked for a member of Congress prior to marriage and I had to share that the last suggestion that they actually read the bill and know what it entails is great because staffers read the majority of bills and some bills come to the floor right before a vote and have had everything but the kitchen sink thrown in. Blessings!