Mr. Michael Pitman with Cox Media asked for my opinion on term limits as he is covering the candidates in Ohio’s 8th district congressional campaign.
Here’s the deal: term limits on members of congress are NOT my first choice of tools to address voter frustration with “business as usual” and the “career politician syndrome”. As a voter it has always been my position that term-limits do NOT address the root cause of this problem which is campaign finance rules and lobbyists/big money. Why should I as a voter penalize myself from voting for the candidate of my choosing simply because he or she has served in office for an arbitrary period of time? Does this make them less effective? No, each incumbent should be evaluated on his or her performance and to take that choice away from the voter is less freedom-not more. Once again the voter ends up being restricted all because Washington cannot seem to reform itself.
As a voter I do not want to give any more ground to the Washington establishment and I resent that I have to relinquish personal choice to vote for the candidate of my choosing- incumbent or not, all because Washington cannot or will not reform the way elections are influenced by big money, lobbyists etc. As long as big money rules the day, it really matters not if we do or do not have term limits because we have not changed the root systemic problem within our system. One crony politician chosen by the system will simply follow the term-limited predecessor and you will have a new candidate in “name-only”- nothing of substance is likely to change. It is yet more window-dressing.
Lastly, since the Supreme Court has ruled (under the guise of “free speech”) that certain entities to include various political groups are not subject to campaign finance laws/regulations that limit how much money can be donated to political campaigns- the question we must ask is what other options are left to address voter frustration with the status-quo? There is no silver bullet; term limits on members of congress is one option popular now and it may help. Notwithstanding as explained above, it is not my first choice. Would I support term limit legislation? Yes, in some form I would. However, I remain skeptical this measure will improve the political landscape of the status-quo; it attacks the symptom and not the cause. The Supreme Court has made this a very difficult item to reform via statute. Short of a constitutional amendment we are left with political parties self-regulating their candidates and most importantly it always comes down to us, THE PEOPLE. After all we vote for these folks or not. The buck stops with the citizen and his or her level of involvement. The system is not perfect but it is probably still the best system out there.
Kevin F. White, Candidate U.S. Congress OH District 8