Hey Big Daddy,
Do you think the state’s term-limits law will ever be changed?
-Ready to Run in Redding
Will and should are two different questions. But I do believe that someday, and hopefully someday soon, voters will recognize the error of their ways and change the disastrous term-limits law.
Look, it seemed like a good idea at the time. I get it. It’s easy to beat up on politicians. And truth be told, Sacramento was in need of a good, deep cleaning. But sticking with this analogy for a moment, if a hit of the reset button was necessary to scrub off some of the muck, the term-limits law has wound up doing more harm than good. The “cleansing” has continued with such rigor, and at such a break-neck pace, that now, we’ve essentially scrubbed off not only the dirt, but all of the skin and everything else that was protecting us in the first place.
And trust me, we are getting down to the bone. Has anyone looked at this crop of legislative candidates? To say the benches in both parties have gotten a bit thin is like saying Karen Carpenter is a bit thin. Like the late Ms. Carpenter, the bench of candidates is downright anorexic, and it’s starting to be a serious health risk.
I’m sure it’s just coincidence that we started spending money like Imelda Marcos in a Jimmy Chu outlet store right after term limits kicked in. And that all of a sudden, finding people who have the courage to make tough political choices is like looking for an emotionally balanced contestant on a reality show.
And now, to bail us out of the worst financial mess in our state’s history, we’re going to turn to a group of people whose cumulative governmental experience consists of reading the Wikipedia page on Proposition 13? Good luck with that.
The original idea behind term limits was sort of like a cash for clunkers situation. You take your old, corrupt politician and get him off the road. In exchange you get a nice, shiny, newly minted political fresh face. Term limits is cash for clunkers gone wild. It’s as if the demand for new cars was so high, they couldn’t come off the assembly lines fast enough. So now, we’re all stuck driving cars that have been shoddily assembled, and area all owned by labor unions or anti-tax zealots.
OK, maybe the analogy is a bad one, but there’s a point in there somewhere. Certain clunkers deserve to be permanently retired, no question about it. But others, that get defined as “clunkers” are actually totally serviceable, reliable machines. And forcing those reliable ones onto the scrapheap can be a bad idea.
So, yes, a change in the term limits law is badly needed, and fast. In a time of serious political problems, we should not be fooled into demonizing, or minimalizing, the importance of expertise. It was amateurs that helped get us into this mess. We need some real experts to help us find our way out.