Central to the discussion of is the fundamental truth stated by the noted British historian Lord Acton, when he said, "Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” That truism is placed in proper context when it is noted that 98.5% of incumbents who rerun for office are reelected to the non term-limited U.S. Congress. (www.termlimits.org)
How many political incumbents can we name that we know should be replaced, but history proves that name recognition, voter apathy and the high cost of running a campaign puts the advantage of winning an election squarely on the incumbents? Imagine if there were no term limits on the U.S. Presidency and George W. Bush had continued to be reelected indefinitely!
Municipal term limits have spread quietly but steadily across country. There are nearly 3,000 term-limited cities, counties and municipalities in the United States, including 10 of our largest cities, such as Los Angeles, New York, Houston, and even Peoria.
Support for term limits goes back to Thomas Jefferson who in 1789 proposed a limited political tenure "to prevent any danger which might arise to the freedoms of the people" by having members of the Continental Congress remain in office too long. Our nation's framers must be writhing in their graves at the political system that rules us today, instead of vice versa, with its dominant cadre of lifelong career politicians and its embedded culture of corruption.
Entrenched and self-serving politicians argue that the election process alone should dictate the number of terms they are allowed to serve. Okay. Then why do they stand in the way of having the proposition placed on the ballot and letting the people vote on it?
This applies as well to the voters who are against term limits. Okay. So support putting the proposition on the ballot and let the people vote on it. Those who seek to prevent this or any other public issue from going before the voters are traitors to democracy. Voters should cast a suspicious eye upon the incumbent politician who seeks to prevent them from voting on the issue of term limits, or any other one for that matter.
I think they should stay out of it and honor the democratic process. It is not about them, it is about the people and the good of the city. If it is so that politicians are only reelected because they are who the people want, then why has the approval of congressional members ranged from 13-17% in recent months?
I realize that some members of this City Council have tried to move on but have found that they are unelectable to higher office, so they simply stay. Others have no desire to move on and give up their local realm of power. It may be true that some of them have done "good things" and they should. They are elected and expected to do "good things."
It depends on the balance. And that does not mean that someone else could not do better or that we should not hear new ideas from new people; in fact the opposite is true. We should welcome new brain power as well as new faces and voices that might be very talented and capable, but feel marginalized by a process that renders them helpless to compete.
Replacing council members also means periodically replacing some city employees and that would also help to eliminate a lot of the corruptive, stale and stagnant politics that occur when the same people retain positions of control and power for too long. If term limits are a threat to politicians, so be it. They are good for the people.