Monday, January 30, 2006

What politicians don't 'get'

Reposted as history. Originally posted in January of 2005.

Paul Jacob - January 30, 2005 -

Here is another article touting term limits as the panacea to bad government.

The medical and psychological benefits of one glass of wine strike many people as pretty obvious, and fairly well demonstrated. But the hazards of over-drinking are clearer yet. They have been for millennia. To set up a limit on one's drinking is not to deny the goodness of one gulp. It is to realize that the value can diminish as more is consumed. This is basic economics (ever heard of marginal utility?) as well as common horse sense. And it applies to food as well as . . . politicians.

What I don't get is how creating a revolving door of legislators provides us with better government. The writer is saying this nation was poorly served during our first 200 years. Why does he hate our history so? Can he truly argue we have been governed that poorly? There are examples where incumbency was against the people's interest. Those were exceptions and not the rule. If the problem is incumbency why does he want a lifetime ban? Why is making them sit out a term and run against an incumbent not enough? Is he afraid that the people may agree with them? If so isn't he really saying that he doesn't trust the people at all?

He uses the example of limiting alcohol. His example though would only be comparable if you accepted that because too much to drink is bad for one night, you can only have 2 drinks in one night and then are banned from drinking for the rest of your life.

Term limits have really hurt California. No one but an imbecile would argue California is better governed today than before term limits was passed. When you put in limits but offer no way to keep the good guys you create a worse problem. No one but second rate people run, and they don’t care about good government since they see themselves as short timers. California is not alone in this problem after term limits are passed.

Term limits is an idiocy of the right, much like the idiocy of the left insisting that only primaries choose party candidates. I never could understand why a system that gave us George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy, had to be scrapped. Back when party leaders could pick a good candidate that party extremists would not chose did not serve us all that badly. Now we get John Kerry, Walter Mondale, Richard Nixon, George H.W. Bush, George McGovern and Bill Clinton. Moderates and leaders find it hard to get elected. This is better?

If extremists on the right and the left keep changing our great system, we are going to wind up as poorly governed as the rest of the world, with only extremists getting into office. Term limits that merely keep someone from running as an incumbent, but allows them to run again after sitting out one term would accomplish what the right says they want, ending the power of incumbency. Since the right is demanding a lifetime ban it means the intention is more duplicitous and evil.


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