Observations on life

What happens when voters want term limits

2013

As you may know, I am a strong proponent of term limits. To me there is no other way to have a somewhat independent Congress that is not focused on special interests and the next election, but rather on doing the right thing for the Country. Granted even term limits are imperfect, but they have to be better than what we have now; a dysfunctional collection of individuals forever running for office or positioning their pot of gold for when they eventually retire.

Getting term limits is not all that easy, even beyond the obvious problems and even when voters overwhelmingly support the idea. Take a look at this lesson from New York City … talk about self interest over the will of the people.

From the WSJ:

In 2008, Quinn backed Mayor Bloomberg on a bill that overturned a public vote from 1993, that imposed a two-term limit for elected officials, and another vote in 1996 that maintained it. The Council voted to change term limits and allow for the Mayor, City Council members, and Borough Presidents to run for third terms, reversing the results of the two previous public referenda. Bloomberg and Quinn ran for third terms.

The Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum denounced this move, and the next year, in June 2009, the City Council passed a budget that imposed a 40% budget cut on the Public Advocate’s Office. Gotbaum declared that she was a victim of “political payback” because of her opposition to the changes in the term limits law,a notion that Quinn called “ridiculous”. In 2010 New Yorkers again voted overwhelmingly to limit politicians to two consecutive terms.

Categories: Observations on life, Politics

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3 replies »

  1. A good lesson here. This points up the difference between democracy where each individual votes in his own self interest, and representative democracy where the representatives vote in their self interest.

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