Sunday, July 15, 2012

Term Limits Are Undemocratic

Something that always seems to elicit widespread support is term limits. It polls well, with a Rasmussen poll from last year showing 71% of the public favoring the concept. To put that in perspective, no politician in this country has an approval rating over 70%. It's something usually reserved for recently inaugurated Presidents, whose terms are initially so full of promise until reality sets in.

But term limits go against the underpinnings of modern democracy. I'm not exactly sure how people square away their cognitive dissonance when they believe in both voting and term limits. Because the two are completely antithetical. If we believe in the concept of one person, one vote, then not allowing a public official to run again for office simply because they've been in the office for an arbitrary length of time robs voters of a potential choice.

Imagine if the NCAA instituted an arbitrary 4 season cap for basketball coaches at one school. It would create a furor at places like Duke, Michigan State, North Carolina, Kentucky, and any other school with a longtime coach that has a long track record of success. It makes no sense to limit a person's length of office because they've been in charge for too long. If that person gets results, and the people want him to stay, then they should stay.

The truth is people who are in favor of term limits ultimately mistrust their follow voters. It's essentially saying to other people: "You are dumb for continually voting this politician into office. I'm saving you from yourself by eliminating that politician's ability to run for reelection."

Don't get me wrong. Voters are dumb and easily manipulable. But that doesn't erase the fact that this country is a representative democracy. And term limits are thoroughly undemocratic.

That brings me to the 22nd Amendment, which limits a public official to two terms in the office of the President. Only a blatantly self-serving institution like Congress would vote for term limits on the President while not instituting term limits for their own elected officials.

Of course, the Supreme Court can't rule a part of the Constitution as unconstitutional. But things like the 22nd Amendment make the grand American experiment a bit less grand. It should be repealed.

You might be wondering why I'm advocating the repeal of the 22nd Amendment when there are so many other issues that are much more relevant to the times. But a political culture that is unable to see past its immediate future is a bad one. And sometimes it's important to keep the foundations of our country as ideologically consistent as possible.

No comments:

Post a Comment