- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 17, 2000

In Florida and five other states, term limits are taking a terrible (or wonderful) toll in the forthcoming election. There will be a record 380 lawmakers forced out of office simply because they have been there too long. What a great idea. If you can't fatten your bank account in eight years, you probably shouldn't have been sent there anyway. Some of these legislators have been in office for over 20 years. The sad part is they are no longer fit for useful work.

One of the side benefits of term limits is that big business won't spend as much trying to influence a legislator who is only going to be in office for a few years. What is happening in these states is that the most powerful representatives are being thrown out. Why New York state hasn't adopted term limits is beyond me. If there ever was a group of politicians that need to be replaced it is these bumbling, budget procrastinating, deeply entrenched, self-serving, so called representatives of the people.

In Arizona, where 22 legislators found out their time was up, 15 of them ran for other offices. This ought to tell us a lot about how sweet a deal it is to be elected to feed at the public troth. How many down and out politicians have been elected to office, served for over 20 years, and left extremely wealthy having been paid only a moderate salary? One political science professor says it takes two terms just to learn the ropes. The ropes of course have been defined by those six- and eight-term power brokers.

The lobbyists are concerned that they will have to keep re-educating the new blood. It must be tough having to buy the same seat over and over again. In the past, once an honorable legislator was bought, he stayed bought. Will a legislator with four years left want more money or less money for his support? Will he be depreciated like a used car by the lobbyist? There will be no campaign fund to contribute to, so how will payment be made?

A career politician is primarily interested in prolonging his career first and legislating second. Protecting his turf is his main interest in life. Voters are lulled into believing that there is no one who could possibly replace him. Voters in six states are now finding out that this is not true. New blood brings new ideas, and change is the last thing a career politician wants to see. California assembly members are forced out after six years, yet California remains one of the more progressives legislatures in the nation.

When a man runs for office knowing that if he is elected, he will be out of work in six or eight years, he must really want the job. Whatever goals he has have nothing to do with maintaining his position in office. Instead, he must make a name for himself by his accomplishments. His performance in office will most likely determine the kind of position he will be able to obtain upon leaving. If we can limit our president to eight years, we should be able to dispense with our lower level politicians, as well.

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