The two sides of term limits

A few years ago, we wrote a piece here about term limits. While our views have changed a bit, we are more firmly convinced that terms limits are a good idea.

Whether one is considering election to the Maui County Council, the state Legislature, the Congress of the United States or even the presidency of the United States, there are two overriding questions about term limits:

1) Should the citizenry of the USA be denied the right to vote for its preferred candidate because that candidate has been term-limited out of office?

2) Or, is the country better served by having fresh blood in its public offices?

We resent career politicians — by that we mean pols who spend an entire career in one position racking up immense pensions and relying on name recognition, not accomplishment, to assure continuous return to office.

Such a politician also builds a huge power base over the years. That can work to both the benefit — and the detriment — of constituents.

Our County Council members and mayor both face term limits. The 22nd Amendment limits the president to two four-year terms.

On a congressional level, should representatives and senators be allowed to serve indefinitely? When does it become demonstrably better to have fresh blood — and new ideas — in an office? Certainly, this is a debate being held currently on several social media platforms.

The Founding Fathers believed in citizen legislators — that both House and Senate members should be part-timers.

While some would say there is no easy solution, we believe there is: There should be a limit of two terms at every level of government. By limiting politicians to two terms at each level, the country can get away from the entrenched power bases that lobbyists target and that seem to corrupt our political system.

What is apparent throughout our system is that unfettered access to government — which multiple terms seem to encourage — is bad public policy. Frequent changes of representatives provide not only fresh ideas but a protection against the influence of money-wielding lobbyists.

Our two cents’ worth comes down to the two terms at every level rule. If somebody is demonstrably an able public servant, he/she can run for another office when they term-limit out in one.

(A version of this editorial has appeared previously in The Maui News.)

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.


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