The term limit movement of the past few years has been fueled mostly by voter anger at the U.S. Congress over the passing of ObamaCare, TARP, and their inability to pass a budget.
This year, residents of Columbia County will get the opportunity to vote on Georgia House Bill 1167 to amend the term limits of our county commissioners. Term limits are a bad idea – especially at the local and state level of government.
First of all, we have term limits: It’s called voting. Term limits do not make any sense. It is anti-voter choice. It is anti-democratic. I’m surprised it’s even considered to be constitutional.
Think for a moment: Every few years all experienced constitutional officers are kicked out of office and we start over. This is like firing the CEO and the division heads of a major corporation like Apple just because – even if they are doing a great job. Term limits takes influence away from the voters and passes it on to government agency bureaucrats, unions and lobbyists.
Do we really want overpaid civil servants and higher-paid lobbyists with the most power in governing?
Our Founding Fathers wisely didn’t like the idea of career politicians; however, they certainly would despise a government where special interests have more say about governing than the representatives we elect because their terms were limited. Term limits encourage our good legislators to become bureaucrats or lobbyist after leaving office and leave us with mediocre or inexperienced amateurs to govern.
Term limits will rob our constitutional officers of institutional memory. Few issues are new and resolved quickly. Term limits will increase the likelihood of repeating mistakes that might have been made before. Institutional memory will belong to the bureaucrats and lobbyist who don’t have to worry about term limits. In addition, with term limits how do you build the senior leadership of our governing bodies?
Term limits encourage short-term focus over long-term thinking. Our constitutional officers can introduce measures to raise or lower tax revenue, reduce budgets or create development projects to pump up their resume (or job prospects after leaving office), but when things go wrong, leave us and our newly elected and inexperienced officers with the mess.
Let’s be honest here: Local and state constitutional officers are not paid that well. The number of potential candidates who are qualified and willing to serve are limited. With term limits it won’t take long before the mediocre become the cream of the crop.
If you really want to return the political process back to the people, and not the bureaucrats, unions and lobbyists, there are better solutions than taking away voter choice. Caps on election spending by the candidates; caps on the spending by political action committees, limits on public funding of campaigns and spending limits on mass media advertising are a few.
If you don’t like your elected representative, get organized and vote them out of office. It’s time to put an end to the populist theme of term limits. With voter choice you already have all the power you need. If you don’t like ’em, then vote ’em out!