Term Limits – why? Perhaps the failure is ours (electorate)

Indeed this a bold controversial statement, given that “Term Limits” is a part of our 2020 Texas Republican Party Platform. Principle #76: We support term limits of twelve years for federal and state offices. Every 2-4 years, depending upon the office in question, we have the opportunity and duty to vote for or to replace legislators. So, are we trying to abdicate our responsibility as citizens with term limits? Consider Principles 3,4,5&7 in our State Platform

  • Preserving American and Texas sovereignty and freedom

  • Limiting government power to those items enumerated in the United States and Texas Constitutions

  • Personal accountability and responsibility

  • Having an educated population......


Could term limits be considered a form of government intrusion/over reach? I offer an alternative thought to the idea of “term limits”– citizens need to fully embrace and take responsibility to perform their civic duty. If an elected official is consistently acting in the interest of their constituency, why should that legislator have to step down based upon an arbitrary time table? Now in the absence of people doing their part, by being informed and holding legislators accountable, elected officials will do the will of big donors – businesses, who are actively involved in the process. However, last time I checked businesses do not cast ballots PEOPLE vote. Now I'm not discounting the need for a campaign to raise money for campaign related items: signage, mailers, commercials and etc. In fact, the larger the geographic area the higher the potential expenses for legislators to get their message out. This is where grass roots involvement can close any monetary funding gap. Sadly most people will only focus on even year election cycles (Presidential, Gubernatorial and Congressional races). If an odd year election cycle has greater than 20% turnout it's an anomaly. Here are some numbers of ballots cast for my city for the years 2021,2019 and 2017 respectively – 3.1K; 3.8K; 1.9K. Registered voters are more easily tracked at the county level not the city level so to for comparison purposes let's conservatively assume that the Voting Age Population (VAP) is only 40% of the population City population and voting data for the odd years:

Year

City Population

40% est

Ballots cast

2021

44K

17.6K

3.1K (~17.6%)

2019

41K

16.4K

3.8 K (~ 23%)

2017

38K

15.2K

1.9K (~ 12%)

Now let's see if my thesis about people only being mainly concerned about even year elections holds merit:

Year

TX

Guadalupe County

2020 (Presidential)

VAP Registered – 78% % Turnout to VAP - 52%

Registered – 111, 951 Turnout – 69.7%

2018 (Gubernatorial/Senatorial)

VAP Registered – 79% % Turnout to VAP - 42%

Registered – 101,134 Turnout – 54.1%

2016 (Presidential)

VAP Registered – 78% % Turnout to VAP – 46.5%

Registered – 93,935 Turnout – 62%

I submit that our efforts should be on educating ourselves and fellow voters. All too often, when at the polls, I encountered individuals who had little idea of who and what issues were on the ballot - easily 20-30% of the people had not examined the constitutional amendments before hand. Our lackadaisical attitude re:voting produces the opposite effect that we desire - responsive citizen legislators. Elections for the most part are not grass roots centered. Instead, most elections require more financial outlays than they otherwise should. At this point it may seem as if I'm arguing against my position of “No Term Limits”

No, I'm arguing for and advocating for more self-education, personal involvement and holding “our” elected officials accountable. We get upset that the “other” persons bum is not doing what we think they should be doing: the woes of living in a Constitutional Republic. I'm saddened to see that the concept of term limits has found itself into local elections (non State level positions). There are NO Term Limits for State Level elected officials. Here's a real-world example where arbitrary term limits is working against Texans. Congressional Republicans have set term limits on Committee Chairmanship positions. This policy was enacted after the “Republican Revolution”, when the party took over the House in 1994. As a result of this policy, in the next few years six to seven Texans will have to vacate their Chairmanship due to “term limits”. Does this sound like a long term winning strategy? So we're clear, Democrats have not imposed this restriction upon themselves. I wonder why?

PROs

CONS

Need for new ideas

Kicks out good leaders

Less chance of corruption

By the time they are established & comfortable they will be removed

More urgency to make a difference

Last year legislator will do what they want

Eliminates career politicians

I will address the limitations of the PRO position

  • By design government is meant to act slow ( abridged version of Thomas Jefferson's outlook)

  • There's a steep learning curve and limited time to be effective

  • Term limits actually strengthen the power of staffers, lobbyist and interest groups; it shifts power to those who are there for the long term


It's easy to see "term limits" as some magical panacea. Well it's not. Instead, imagine if every voter stayed informed and held their respective elected official accountable. In my humble opinion, I think this would result in a better outcome at all levels of government. Let's do the hard work to get the government we want.

Ferrando Heyward


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