Doubts term limits would be effective answer for Congress

January 25, 2018

To the Editor of the Clare County Review:

I agree that our Congress is disappointing, and that it would be good to have more fresh faces and fresh ideas in the House and Senate, but I seriously doubt that term limits (even if, somehow, they were to be enacted by the Congress) would be effective. We need only look at our neighbor, Mexico, to judge whether term limits are likely to produce good government. The Mexican Constitution of 1917 simply forbids reelection to any public office, but the government continues as inept and corrupt as ever, or perhaps more so, since the officeholder has only one term to fill his pockets. I speak from firsthand experience in dealing with all three levels of government as President of a homeowners’ association in Mexico from 2003 to 2012. The technique for getting around term limits is simple: as an elected official faithful to the party leadership nears the end of his term of office, the party nominates him for election to some other office. Thus, a state legislator may be nominated to be Mayor of his town, a Federal Representative or Senator, perhaps Governor, etc. Sometimes it is to a position in another state. Thus the prohibition against reelection produces a constant change of faces, but appears to reinforce party loyalty and thus stifle any new (or disloyal) ideas.

So what to do? Well, we could all become more active politically, but that might interfere with TV watching, and would mean rubbing shoulders with politicians! It seems to me unlikely that enough people to make a real difference would actually get seriously involved. I hope that I am wrong, but there is another approach that could be tried: what a friend of mine called the “None of the above” vote.

It is widely believed that voters in the U. S. often feel that they are voting for the lesser of evils, rather than for a candidate who has captured their enthusiasm. Certainly, I have felt that way in all presidential elections since Ronald Reagan left office. What would happen if the unhappy voter could vote AGAINST both (or all) of the candidates for a particular office, with new primaries, new nominations and new elections if neither candidate won a majority? It might be worth a try!

T. S. Hunter

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