Term limits is a topic that seems to get a lot of attention from politicians during their campaigns but is never talked about again after Election Day in November. Why? Because most politicians want to get into office and make it a life-long career. Both of the major political parties want this as well. This is why candidates pretend to be for term limits during their campaigns and then flip-flop on the issue once they’re in office. As much as incumbent politicians ignore the topic, term limits are a good thing for all elected positions and not just for the President of the United States. Here are some reasons why:
- They reduce the incumbent advantage: Incumbents (current office holders) enjoy a massive advantage when it comes to elections. According to a Deseret News report, in the 2002 election, incumbent politicians enjoyed a 93.5 % reelection rate. This incumbent advantage is similar at the national level as well.In addition to a high reelection rate, incumbents also enjoy other advantages, such as free money to use on flyers and other campaigning materialsSenator Orrin Hatch is a good example of the strong advantage incumbents have over their opponents. He has served as one of Utah’s senators for over 30 years and has been immovable during each election. Term limits help combat this advantage by forcing incumbents out and leveling the election field periodically.
- They promote a citizen-focused government: Currently, politicians and their political parties hold all the power when it comes to government. Parties want to keep their politicians in place, so they spend millions of dollars each election to do so. Our current lack of term limits, both at the state and national levels, encourages both parties and officials to focus on campaigning, rather than campaign promises and the people who elected them to serve. Officials who are term-limited, and know they cannot be reelected, are more likely to listen to and respond to the needs and demands of citizens, rather than being consumed with campaigning and courting wealthy donors. Term limits help elected officials to focus on the common good of the community, rather than the good of the party or the politician.
- They reduce the influence of special interest groups and lobbying: Elected officials must be accountable only to voters. Elected officials’ only responsibility should be to represent their constituents, not courting special interest groups, lobbyists, and organization willing to offer large donations in exchange for the politicians pushing policies that support their interests and agendas. Special interest and lobbying groups typically fund those politicians most likely to win, which are the incumbents. The longer an elected official is in office, the more beholden they become to special interests, donors, and lobbyists. Term limits help decrease the influence of special interests and lobbyists, and help reduce their ability to build these political relationships.
- They bring new ideas and new faces to government: Term limits promote fresh ideas in government. By ensuring turn-over in elected offices, we can develop and try new ideas instead of being mired in “how things have always been done.” Term limits eliminate the seniority system and allow new individuals to assume positions of leadership and responsibility in the government more quickly.
Term limits will promote a limited system of government and return governing power to the people to whom the government rightfully belongs. I fully support and will fight for term limits. Utah must find a way to institute term limits for their elected state officials, US congressional representatives, and US senators if we are to fight the stagnation and corruption we read about in the news almost daily. I’m ready to engage in that fight as your representative.