Howard Rich's Blog

October 10, 2008

From the USA Today

Filed under: Uncategorized — howierich @ 12:15 pm
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Opposing view: Americans favor term limits

By Howard Rich

A friend of mine once compared politicians’ persistent efforts to undermine term limits to the frustration of an intoxicated person trying in vain to unlock a car door.

They keep fumbling through key after key, trying time and again  — to no avail.

“Eventually it dawns on them,” my friend said. “They’re trying to force their way into a car that doesn’t belong to them.”

Such is the fundamental disconnect between career politicians and the people they represent, although sadly it hasn’t dawned on many of our elected officials that citizens belong behind the wheel  — no matter how badly the ruling elite wishes to remain in the driver’s seat.

This is why voters across America continue to overwhelmingly support term limits, expressing that allegiance in compelling bipartisan majorities every time term limits are threatened by politicians who see change as an impediment to their own ambitions.

Put simply, citizens value fresh ideas, new perspectives and more competitive elections more than the so-called institutional knowledge of the political ruling class.

They also instinctively see through the transparent attempts of power-hungry politicians wanting to weaken or eliminate term limits, appeals that invariably revolve around distortions and abstract concepts completely at odds with political reality.

For example, politicians like to argue that term limits unfairly enhance the influence of special interests, yet in states where term limits are challenged, special interests are always the first to try to eliminate them.

Politicians also like to argue that term limits create “weak legislatures,” a point governors in California, Michigan and Ohio would most likely be inclined to disagree with.

In fact, the only anti-term limits campaign to come close to succeeding recently was in California  — and its primary selling point was the misleading premise that it would actually strengthen term limits.

Once again, though, voters saw through the charade and reaffirmed their support for citizen legislators. No matter what excuses might come, term limits will remain a force for positive change in our democracy for the simple reason that voters want it that way.

Howard Rich is chairman of the advocacy group U.S. Term Limits.


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