(’76 Contributor) As truth seekers we are obliged to review everything, including term limits, with the utmost objectivity. My complaint about term limits is that this reform is far too modest to save us from what ails our society.
A point from the book Reinventing Government was spot on, “The New Deal paradigm of government is obsolete.” Clinton was president then and made the book famous, but did nothing to build on its few sound points. I approached the authors (Osborne and Gaebler) to ask why he had not articulated what the new paradigm might be. No response.
The Reason Foundation countered the left-leaning book with Revolution at the Roots. In short it said “follow the 10th Amendment” and equally offered more words than vision and failed to articulate a new paradigm. Each side followed with another round of rebuttal books, lots of interesting reading and a few fresh ways to view a few things, but no one really touched further on the need for a new vision … a new paradigm.
Because a practical new vision has not yet been articulated by either the left or the right, problems fester. Public anger and frustration grow … and you know what I’m talking about. The welfare state (that obsolete paradigm) labors to irretrievably entrench itself, at the same time global free trade and global tax competition threatens to bankrupt all welfare states.
My point is … we have a lot more substantial things to focus on than term limits at this point. My Reform Party friends in the mid 1990s never gained the understanding, that it was the system that corrupted the people more than the incumbents were fundamentally corrupt. They were incapable of thinking any more deeply than kick the bums out.
Writing for the elimination of term limits will bring attention to your name. That may be the only benefit. An activist movement to that effect will fail (particularly with the current mood on the street) … with the net result of your time and mine being consumed and diverted from items of greater consequence and current relevance.
It saddens me as much as it anyone that profound leaders such as Bob Schaffer and John Andrews were victims of term limits. Yet, your title “brain drain” both insults our population and suffers myopic vision. It infers a point that I know Bob would never claim himself, that he is, without contest, the most intelligent of the 700,000 people in his CD. Surely there must be at least a few in 700,000 who can match his intellect and leadership.
Your title also degrades their subsequent achievements since leaving office as less important than being in office. At best, such an assertion is debatable and my personal view is with Jefferson’s and what they learned in serving helps them to contribute to society in their later endeavors … making their in-office contributions less substantial than their subsequent contributions to society. We should be on our guard of anyone who views serving in office as an end. Like success and happiness it should be part of the journey.
None of us should allow ourselves to fall into the trap of worshiping the golden calf of government or our elected officials. This view is counter to the Declaration … counter to freedom and liberty.
Dennis Polhill is a senior fellow at the Independence Institute and co-chairman of the Colorado Term Limits Coalition. Editor John Andrews thanks Mr. Polhill for his gracious compliment above, but maintains as always that every glance in the mirror gave Andrews an argument for term limits—namely his own fallen human nature, not to be trusted with power too confidently or too long.