I’m going to pick up on my series of posts on candidate surveys that I’ve received in my bid for State Representative by posting a pledge by a group called U.S. Term Limits out of Palm Beach, Florida. I’ve actually been surprised by the number of out of state groups that have been sending me material in this election (I will be posting more about those at a later time).
This is a group that is interested in supporting and maintaining term limits for elected officials across the country. A worthy goal, to be sure, under the right circumstances. Perhaps some of you have read news stories about the lack of leadership in the Michigan Legislature because of term limits has been hindering efforts to pass important legislation.
In an article on Crain’s Detroit Business, Mike Turner reports on a recent study that shines a light on some of the issues with the term limits.
The report, which draws on such sources as research conducted by Wayne State University political science professors, concludes that term limits have led to less experienced legislators and may have increased the influence of lobbyists and legislative staffers, who have more knowledge and greater institutional memory about issues.
So, where do I stand on them? All-in-all, I like the term limits. It helps to ensure we’re not beholden to career politicians that are all but impossible to unseat because of gerrymandering or campaign money. It’s also important to note that the idea of “citizen legislators” is something that I can get behind; after all, I do not want to make a career out of politics should I be elected. In fact, my life so far isn’t that of a typical politician, and that’s something that I’m proud of.
With that in mind, I do believe that it is important to keep a mind open to the facts about some of the drawbacks on term limits. If the legislators are under increased influence of lobbyists, that’s something that’s important to acknowledge, and something that we could potentially fix by tweaking the term limits law (by ballot initiative or by legislative action).
I’ll post the letter I got from U.S. Term Limits, and then the “U.S. Term Limits State Pledge” that I received. I didn’t sign the pledge, but I did write and send a letter to the group. I’ll post that letter first.
It’s important to note that I’m not against the term limits. I do, however, have a policy about not signing pledges or promises because I view them as anti-democratic, especially when they’re designed to prevent lawmakers from considering certain ideas about how to solve certain problems.
Thank you for reading. I hope that I’m helping to elucidate, in a small way, the process of running for an office and the people and groups involved. Some of the groups I’ve heard from have a lot of influence and a lot of money, like the PACs that have bankrolls for the politicians that align with them. I’ve explicitly said that I’m not accepting money from PACs and it’s because I don’t want them to have any undue influence.