There’s a Loophole for Every Law

27 Mar

We all get frustrated with our elected officials and really hate professional politicians. So someone brought up the standard refrain: “We need term limits!” The problem is–like any law–there’s a loophole.

The problem with elections is that people tend to vote for what is familiar–that’s why signs are important for political races. If you’ve seen their name several thousand times before Election Day, you’re more likely to vote for them, even if you know nothing about them. Incumbents get reelected constantly, because they have greater name recognition–after all, you’ve seen them before. The US Congress has a 91% retention rate among its members. So term limits are the solution to stopping professional politicians.

Except they don’t… and we have evidence that they don’t. We focus on the national assemblies so much, but the great thing about America, is that we have lots of little “experiments in democracy” that we call states. For the sake of amusing myself, let’s call it “minor league politics.” No two states work the same. Nebraska has the only unicameral legislature in the country (established in 1937), every one else has a state senate and house of reps, just like the national government. Texas, Maine, Arizona, and Wyoming have “citizen legislatures,” where the members only serve part-time. Because people have called for term limits for decades, some states have implemented them, with… interesting results.

Let’s take Maine, which passed a term limit referendum back in 1993. The poster child for this push is John L. Martin, who had been the Democratic Speaker of the House for 18 years (at that point). The referendum kicked him out of his job the following year, but six years later, he served for eight years in the state senate, and is currently serving for six years back in the House of Representatives. Why? Because these “citizen politicians” found a loophole. The law says you can’t serve more than eight years in consecutive terms in any branch of the legislature. So he simply jumped to the Senate, then jumped back to the House. This is also the case in Ohio, where you can only serve two terms in any one branch, and many of these full-time politicians simply jump from one branch to the other with their party’s blessing.

I hear you say, “the limits aren’t the problem, it’s the way it’s written!” So here’s where I both praise and degrade my home state of Arizona. We also have term limits–no more than three terms in EITHER house. Also the state senators serve two year terms, same as the house reps. Okay, problem solved, right? No–what that means is that no particular politician gets enough experience or clout to be independent of their party, so the political parties actually have more power, and it encourages lockstep thinking.

It also forces these part-timers to think about higher office, and think less about doing their job there. We have a multitude of state offices that are elected, none of which are term limited. In fact, George Hunt, the first governor of Arizona, served seven terms… and the only reason those weren’t consecutive, was because he was appointed Ambassador to Thailand just to get rid of him. That is certainly not a worry today, because governors are more likely to run for US Senate, or get picked up as a cabinet secretary. Even Governor Hunt (mocked as “King George VII”) was only sent to Thailand to prevent him running for US Senate!

So although everyone says, “We should throw all the bums out,” voters also say, “But my congressman is great!” Term limits doesn’t solve the problem. Politicians write the laws, and therefore, they’re the ones best suited to take advantage of the loopholes. So what is the solution? Simple–vote for the challenger, even if what they stand for disgusts you. Because if you keep turning out dysfunctional legislature after dysfunctional legislature, even the stupidest politician is going to get the message. “Oh, we need to do something.” And that’s the most important lesson our elected leaders need to learn.

But I could be talking out my back end here; what do you think? Could term limits still work? Let me know in the comments below! Then after that, pick up one of my books. Or if $1.99 is too rich for your blood, download one of my stories for free!

2 Responses to “There’s a Loophole for Every Law”

  1. rebecca s revels March 27, 2021 at 7:33 am #

    I’ve often heard the words, term limit, but not bothered to think on it this way. Thank you for an interesting and eye opening discussion.

  2. Silk Cords March 28, 2021 at 2:44 am #

    To paraphrase Yoda, the trouble with the term limits discussion, and many other issues also is that “Always with the naysayers, it can’t be done”. NOT an attack on you either, your post was pretty balanced.

    BUT, I always hear a million reasons and example why term limits won’t work, with no discussion of how to fix term limits as opposed to just throwing up hands, walking away and leaving the train wreck of a status quo. It’s worse than the fix.

    You sort of hit on the basic solution; close the loopholes. Two terms, PERIOD, and you’re out, for ANY and all elected jobs in that city, state or federal government. You want to run for a third term as mayor, move to a different city. 3 term governor? Only if you can get two different states to elect you. You can move UP or move on, but that’s it, and once you hit the Federal level, it’s your last stop.

    The more in-depth solution requires more effort: Getting people involved and caring about their government, AND educated on the issues. That would be a herculean effort as all we’ve heard since the 1960s is that government is unfixably corrupt, we should be ashamed of being Americans, and news reporting is either non-existent OR incredibly one sided and agenda driven.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

American Legion Post 138

Damn Straight 138!

Tales from a broken doll

Short stories, poetry, musings and rambling.

The Cracking

"We have this treasure in clay pots ..."

Poteci de dor

"Adevărul, pur şi simplu, e rareori pur şi aproape niciodată simplu" - Oscar Wilde

Struggle Street

Mental Health and Well Being

O Miau do Leão

Uma pequena voz da Flandres

A Life's Journey

Little things matter 🌼

Dreamy_parakeet

A dreamer, who loves to muse her world and penned it down✍️ Each words in this blog lay close to my soul🧡

Harley Reborn

♠️Rip It Up & Start Again♥️

Talkin' to Myself

I'm listening

Nature Whispering

From Sunset to Dawn

Riverside Peace

The Official Website of Australian Writer Chrissy Siggee

I didn't have my glasses on....

A trip through life with fingers crossed and eternal optimism.

How to feel better

Another year, a decade or a lifetime - sooth your body eternally

Looking to God

Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. (Matthew 6:33)

ROBERTO ALBORGHETTI

We may see things that we don't even imagine.

Decaf White

No sugar

%d bloggers like this: