I’m opposed to term limits. I mention this because jj made a spirited and persuasive argument in favor of limits in a comment to a recent thread. I’m opposed on both practical and philosophical grounds.
As a practical matter, you don’t want an amateur deploying troops in Afganistan. You don’t want an amateur building a bridge in Brooklyn. You don’t want an amateur running a hospital in Houston. And you don’t want a bunch of amateurs writing a multi-trillion dollar a year budget. Amateurs in Congress would likely be almost completely beholden to the professionals — the career lobbiests for special interests, career staffers and career bureaucrats. By the time the amateurs had things figured out they’d be replaced with a new crop of amateurs. Not a way to run the world’s largest entity. I can tell you we’ve had term limits in California for over 20 years and the governance of the state has gotten progressively worse all that time. Term limits do not help; they make matters worse. California is living proof of it.
As a philosophical matter, I’m also opposed. As best I could make out, jj seemed to be saying that our elected officials either started out corrupt or were corrupted by power so that their only thought was to do whatever it took to stay in power. Term limits would prevent that thought from taking seed, by making it impossible for them to stay in power no matter what they did. JJ also seems to be saying that our voters are too stupid to vote out corrupted officials. Why? JJ focuses on pork barrel projects, but voters like those projects when they are for the voters’ district. That’s the whole point of the projects, and it is not going to change with term limits. In fact, if you have a limited time to pass such projects, you will just work extra hard to be remembered fondly as the one who brought home the bacon, before you are replaced by the next novice who will repeat the cycle.
Anyway, the whole notion that the poeple will inevitably elect and continue to re-elect the “wrong” type of representative and we must save them from themselves by imposing term limits is profoundly undemocratic. People should be allowed to vote for the representatives they wish and, if they continue to vote for crooks, they get what they deserve. Imposition of term limits is a gimmic, nothing more, designed to limit the voters’ choices. Your thoughts?