At Politomuse we are not fans of term limits. We feel imposing an arbitrary limitation on the number of times voters can select a particular candidates disempowers voters, creates a power vacuum (due to an absence of experienced legislators) that is gleefully filed by lobbyists and special interests, and otherwise removes qualified individuals from the pool of potential candidates. We think that voters are ultimately responsible for their own decisions and that voters stand in the best position to decide if a particular candidate is well suited for office.
We think that voters are ultimately responsible for their own decisions and that voters stand in the best position to decide if a particular candidate is well suited for office.
Why Are We Term Limit Polito-Haters?
Put simply, not only do we not feel that seniority is necessarily a detrimental characteristic when it comes to legislators and elected officials. We feel that like in most other professions, experience can be a very positive attribute. We don’t “buy” the argument that private sector lawyers, business leaders, prosecutors, teachers, or plumbers necessarily have a better skill set for running the state then do elected officials who understand how to negotiate, draft legislation, and plan state legislative activities without running afoul of local, state, and federal laws and systems. We believe that governmental experience can lead to the development of a better understanding of the intricacies of the California political system. We feel that voters bear the responsibility for voting out bad elected officials and that the system should not be “stacked” to automatically “fire” elected officials once they reach a pre-set level of experience and proficiency. For those who argue that such simplistic thinking is not “practical” we offer this very practical observations: The advent of term limits has dramatically increased the influence of lobbyists in Sacramento because those lobbyists now are the real source of “nuts-and-bolts” knowledge and institutional memory. So, the “practical” outcome of term limit has been to increase the role and power of special interest groups – exactly the opposite of its stated intent.
But PolitoMuse Urges a “Yes” Vote?
Unfortunately, the fight over the existence of term limits has been lost. California voters have already imposed term limits prohibiting candidates from serving more than 6 years in the state assembly, 8 years in the state senate or a total of 14 years combined. Proposition 28, is billed as a further reduction in limits – down to 12 years from the previous 14. However, those 12 years can be served in either the assembly or the Senate. Since we generally oppose limits we view the ability to serve a longer term in at least one of the legislative houses as a marginal improvement over the existing system.
Overall, this initiative is a “trade off” of decreasing the overall time of service by an experienced official in exchange for increased time in a particular house. We think this is marginally positive for the state.