Term Limits Debated
The debate over term limits continues
by Linn and Ari Armstrong
With the recent election, Mesa County will continue to term limit its sheriff. But should term limits for sheriffs be removed in the future? Should term limits for state legislature be repealed, or term limits for Congress be instituted?
Your authors usually agree on political principles, but the matter of term limits pertains more to optional political organization and strategy. We don't dispute the wisdom of George Washington's self-imposed limit, nor of term limits for president. We want to risk neither monarchy nor dictatorship. Yet for lower offices, the rationale for term limits is less obvious. Linn will present his case for term limits, while Ari will offer some notes of skepticism. ...
Linn: When "politician" becomes a professional class, politicians start to see themselves -- and the public tends to see them -- as elites. This is an affront to republicanism. When career politicians run things, voters tend to relinquish more power to the politicians and think of government as something by and for the politicians. Moreover, the longer politicians stay in office, the more they are tempted by power, prestige, and special-interest pandering.
Ari: I take seriously the argument about corruptibility. However, there's nothing inevitable about corruption. It's possible for a long-time politician to keep his or her moral bearings, as it is possible for a new politician to immediately sell out to special interests and abuse the power of the office. One problem with term limits is that they can serve to replace the first sort of politician with the second. ...
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