Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Term Limits Only Help When...

Term limits only help when the elected officials are the ones actually running things. If the danger is that politicians get drunk with power and get corrupt when they are in office too long, term limits can help. If a regulatory bureaucracy is running things and the legislature cannot check them, then term limits don't help. In such a case it scarcely matters if the elected officials are corrupt or not, they are but the masthead on a ship of state steered by others.

The same is true if one or two political parties are really running things. If the candidates owe their election to a party label, it does not matter whether they are personally corrupt or not, nor does it matter that they get switched out from time to time. What matters in that case is whether or not the people who run the parties are corrupt, since they are the constant whose influence remains as the faces come and go.

Term limits is either an effective way to restrain the corrupting influence of power or it is a feel-good non-solution. Sadly, it currently appears to be more the latter than the former. The reason is simple. It currently barely matters who you elect. The regulators go on regulating and those who run the parties want it that way. They seem to be running things, and most politicians go along with what they want even if the folks back home want the opposite. The few who don't get punished by those who are really running things.

This will have to be solved in at least two steps. First we must separate "your" representative from a political party HQed in DC and funded by global corporations so that they will actually represent you again. Then they can take on the regulatory state without fear of a shiv in the back from the party. On the state level, some of us are making a modest start toward this goal at Neighbors of Arkansas.

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