So Much For the Consent of THE GOVERNED!

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Bonnie, Feb 19, 2005.

  1. Bonnie
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    Bonnie Senior Member

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    So Much For The Consent Of The Governed
    By Frank Salvato (02/18/05)

    When one thinks of the phrase “term limits” an image of aging, old-boy-network politicians sitting in plush offices on Capitol Hill in Washington DC comes to mind. The concept of term limits is to keep those elected to Congress from feeding from the public trough so long as to become as tendentiously institutionalized as, oh, let’s say a Robert Byrd, a Teddy Kennedy or a Strom Thurmond, God rest his soul.

    But politics isn’t only about Washington DC or state capitols. It is also about counties, cities, towns, villages and school boards. In fact, we are more affected by the decisions made at the local level than we are by the decisions made at the national level. One need only understand that with all the talk of education funding being bandied around Washington DC, on average, our federal government is only responsible for 10% of the funding it takes to run our schools. The illusion is there but the reality is not.

    In 1998, a group of people headed by Tramm Hudson, the former chairman of the Sarasota Florida County Republican Party, got together to support the “Two Will Do” term limits effort there. Like at least eight other counties in Florida, 68% of the people in Sarasota County thought that escaping the pitfalls of having career politicians was a good thing and approved an amendment limiting the terms of their county commissioners to two. The will of the people had been done. Or so it seemed.

    In January of 2005 Circuit Judge Deno Economou ruled that the Florida Constitution does not allow for citizens to place a limit on how many times a county commissioner can be elected to office. His ruling was issued despite the fact that term limits are already in place in more than eight other Florida counties. He based his ruling on a 2002 Supreme Court decision that stated that only the state constitution could establish rules such as term limits for constitutional officers. Economou used a broad and liberal interpretation to include county commissioners into the realm of constitutional officers. Arguably, this could be construed as a judge creating law which is judicial activism rather than ruling on a point of law which is the judiciary’s intended function.

    While I have reservations about the idea of term limits, there are two overriding questions this matter brings to mind: 1) who empowers our government and 2) whose interests are they supposed to be pursuing?

    The obvious answer to the first question is that “We the People” empower our government whether it is on the national, state or, as is the case here, the local level. Under no circumstance can government be empowered by any other force. As President Abraham Lincoln was so keen to point out in his Gettysburg Address, we have a “government of the people, by the people and for the people.” Case closed.

    The answer to the second question is a bit more complicated but not because it’s supposed to be.

    In theory, our government should be doing the work of the people all of the time with the consent of those they govern as mandated by our electoral process. Ironically, that is why politicians and government employees are categorized as civil servants; they serve the civilian populace.

    But we don’t live in a perfect United States and many who are elected to office have a terminal case of the “Me-Me’s.” By that I mean they are so arrogant and drunk with power garnered from extended periods in political office they dismiss the will of the people with a narcissistic wave of their pandering hands and a rationalization that leaves their constituency scratching their heads.

    Two people who have crossed the line from public service to power hungry narcissism are Sarasota County Commissioners Jon Thaxton and Nora Patterson, both in the second terms of what were amended to be two term positions.

    Ms. Patterson, when asked about Judge Economou’s decision said that she wasn’t convinced that voters really meant what they voted for. “People vote for things in the heat of the moment,” she said. She went on to say that she believed the voters meant for term limits to affect those in national office and that the will of the people, as mandated by their overwhelming approval of the term limits amendment, didn’t apply to her or her fellow commissioners. How convenient.

    After a unanimous vote by the five county commissioners of Sarasota County to abandon an appeal of Judge Economou’s decision – all five of whom would have been ineligible to run again under the term limits approved by their constituents – Commissioner Thaxton, after hearing county attorney David Persson opine that the chances to win on appeal were “slim,” said that it made him “unwilling to commit to the fight.”

    Another Sarasota County commissioner, Shannon Staub – who is starting her third term – said she didn’t feel that Sarasota County needed “to be the lead in the state on this one.”

    And Commission Chairman Paul Mercier – who is starting his second term – was less tactful in his disdain for the will of his constituents when he said, “If the people of Sarasota County don’t like the decision they can show their displeasure at the ballot box.” I wonder if Mr. Mercier ever heard the phrase ‘be careful what you wish for.’

    There is an old adage that goes, “a politician will almost never vote himself out of office.” That old saw used to be something people would chuckle about. But as more and more politicians and judges usurp the sanctity of the consent of the governed it isn’t anything to dismiss with a chuckle anymore. Let’s just hope that the people of Sarasota County, Florida make an example of Mercier, Thaxton, Staub and Patterson. Beyond performance of civic responsibility, they would be doing their county – and their country – a favor while sending the message that we are “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.”

    Related Reading:
    Advocates Will Fight Term Limits Reversal
    http://www.heraldtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050121/NEWS/501210399/1006/SNN05

    County Gives Up on Term Limits
    http://www.heraldtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050209/NEWS/502090306/1006/SPORTS

    http://www.americandaily.com/article/6863
     
  2. cptpwichita
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    cptpwichita Member

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    I am all for term limits.maybe even 1 term of say 6 years (like senators) with 1/3 leaving every 2 years.
     
  3. CivilLiberty
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    CivilLiberty Active Member

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    Why? Shouldn't the people elect who they want regardless of the experience that person has?

    If a person is doing their job well, shouldn't they have the opportunity to continue?

    The reality is that term limits favor the MINORITY, because term limits force the majority-elected office holder from office, and all this does is give the minority a better chance at occupying that office.

    But I also agree with the idea that entrenchment can lead to power polarizations that are not always good.


    In general, I'll say that term limits are *good* for executive branch leadership: Governor, Mayor, President, etc. Positions where a single person has veto powers and executive order powers. These are positions where that power must be kept on a tight leash, and one way to do that is with term limits.

    However, term limits are *bad* for representative branch offices: City Council, Congress, etc. Representatives need to form coalitions, and work together to be effective. The needs of the people represented are best served by experienced representatives to be served effectively.

    If a representative is not doing their job, they can get voted out, as happens all the time. Term limited are not needed to force *bad* persons out of office - term limits only serve to allow the minority party more opportunity.


    Best Regards,


    Andy
     
  4. rtwngAvngr
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    rtwngAvngr Guest

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    I don't see this logic at all. If the people want to reelect another of the same party they can. I believe your argument makes no sense.

    I guess you see the difficulty dems are having within the democratic process and seek to limit their exposure to the desires of the people.
     
  5. Avatar4321
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    Avatar4321 Diamond Member Gold Supporting Member

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    I dunno. i have to disagree. Just because someone has a Term limit in one position doesnt mean they cant run for something else. That doesnt mean they cant continue their public service. And honestly some of these dinosaurs like Kennedy should be out.
     
  6. CivilLiberty
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    CivilLiberty Active Member

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    The people Massachusetts don't seem to think so. And unless you live in Mass, you have no say in the matter.

    In another thread:

    http://www.usmessageboard.com/forums/showthread.php?t=18045


    I embellished the issue a bit more. I'll sum it up as "people want term limits for OTHER people's representatives".

    A
     
  7. insein
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    insein Senior Member

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    the problem with the modern politician is that they are not PUBLIC SERVANTS. they look at the position as a job. They feel entitled to do the things they do because they were elected.

    My solution is that you should have limits on the amount of public service you can do in a lifetime. If you had say a limit of 8 or 12 years total for your whole life in office whether it be city council or president of the USA, more normal folk would be inclined to run for office. As it stands now, politics is a nasty game played to the bone because of the payoff it gives to the victor. The winner gains notoriety and money whether it be mayor or senator. They then use that money and fame to jump at higher positions. If the opportunity to jump up is taken away, then we would get people in office who actually want to better their communities instead of leach off of them.
     
  8. Merlin1047
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    Merlin1047 Senior Member

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    That's true. But so long as the people of Massachusetts elect assholes whose decisions affect the rest of the country, then we ALL should have a say in the process.

    Term limits prevent drunks and gigolos such as kerry and kennedy from amassing power all out of proportion to the number of people they represent. The population of Massachusetts is but a tiny fraction of the population of the US. Yet Kennedy has tremendous influence on what goes on in the rest of the country. That is wrong. Term limits would put an end to that.
     
  9. Deornwulf
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    Deornwulf Member

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    Bah - We do not live in a true democracy anyway so why bother pretending. My crazy radical solution would be to have a computer pick names randomly for all representative positions - From the United States Congress down to city commissioners. It would be fair and would result in equal representation in government.
     
  10. acludem
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    acludem VIP Member

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    I am adamantly opposed to term limits and have seen the damage they do in my home state. We have, for the past 4 years, had no leadership in our legislature. We had a guy who is now the Senate Majority Leader heckling our Governor during his state of the state address. Even though Republicans controlled both houses, they couldn't get a budget out on time and nearly shut down the state government because of their incompetence. Experienced leadership is needed to get things done and done right. You need people leading the legislatures that know the rules, the procedures, and the right way to get a job done. When you have term limits, you take away that experience. Turnover occurs naturally in political office. There are some who stay many years, but their experience and leadership is of great value. One need only look at the budget stalemate in Washington in 1995. Who stepped in and helped get it solved? Bob Dole, an experienced Senator who cultivated good relations with both parties. Term limits result in less efficient, more partisan, and less effective legislatures. Professional politicians aren't the problem with our system, a lazy apathetic populace is.

    acludem
     

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