Every now and then the notion of term limits for the federal legislature comes around on the gui-tar, and I’m not just going to interupt the sing-along, I’m here to throw the guitar in the campfire and make a scene.
Term limits are the worst idea since peanut butter and jelly in the same jar, and I am sick of dumbass political amateurs being gulled into thinking they’re a good idea by the shadiest of republican operatives.
First off, we have term limits. They’re called “elections.”
Second, who the hell are you (that goes for everyone who isn’t me) to tell me I can’t vote to keep my Congressman if I think he’s doing a good job and I want to keep him doing it? Nobody, that’s who.
The third and fourth things are simply pragmatic. Just as a legislator is getting a grasp on the job and how to do it well, he or she is termed out. That destroys comity, and it places the institutional memory not with the legislators, but with the staffers. As the staffers inevitably leave, the only people who have been around long enough to know the ropes are the lobbyists. (What could possibly go wrong there???)
Just look at the Missouri Legislature. Law schools used to teach about the Missouri Model because our legislature was so effective. But Democrats controlled it. They couldn’t take it fair-and-square, so they cheated. They took control using….wait for it….TERM LIMITS. Yet the notion of Term Limits NEVER came up, not one single time, in any state where Republicans had control of the state houses. Not once. Funny, that.
Let me be clear…I will do anything short of taking up arms to see that term limits never see the light of day in the federal legislature. Term limits disenfranchise voters from voting for the best candidate for the job. Believe it or not, there are real civic-minded people in Congress like Emanuel Cleaver II and Sherrod Brown. They deserve to be sent back as often as they’ll agree to serve with those polecats everyone else sends to D.C.
The problem is MONEY. And the fact Missouri doesn’t have any ethics laws on the books. We have term limits and we have a helluva lot bigger mess in Jeff than they have in DC, not the least of which is Rex Sinquefield’s checkbook. Given the facts on the ground, term limits obviously ain’t the answer.
If state legislatures are the laboratories of democracy, term limits have made the Missouri lege a meth lab of democracy.
Anyone who thinks term limits are a good idea needs to watch the Missouri lege in action, where term limits have been in effect for 15 years. Not one damn legislator knows what the hell they’re doing, the original staffers are gone, and the lobbyists and ALEC write the bills. If anyone can look at our lege and still think term limits are a good idea, that person needs massive amounts of thorazine.