Term lim­its has its ben­e­fits

The Times (Northeast Benton County) - - OPINION - LEO LYNCH For­mer JP, Ben­ton County

This will be the last edi­tion of the Pea Ridge Times be­fore the Nov. 6 election there­fore our con­tin­u­ing in­ter­est in pol­i­tics, and what and who to vote for, is the ma­jor topic of dis­cus­sion. If we could find a way to have 95 per­cent of the vot­ers go to the polls, as we fre­quently read some other coun­tries en­joy, it would be out­stand­ing. And, if we had all those vot­ers in­formed on all the is­sues and the qual­i­fi­ca­tions of the can­di­dates, our na­tion would be a far su­pe­rior place to live. The sad thing is al­ways the same; voter turn-out will be too low and too many peo­ple will wait too long to be in­formed on the ma­jor is­sues be­fore Nov. 6.

The State Supreme Court and the At­tor­ney Gen­eral’s of­fice have been re­view­ing the pro­posed is­sues that could change our State’s Con­sti­tu­tion and re­moved Is­sue 3. It would have put the term lim­its ques­tion on the bal­lot for a voter ref­er­en­dum. This would have been a re­ver­sal of the last election when a rather sneaky hid­den ad­di­tion to an­other piece of leg­is­la­tion was used to changed the pre­vi­ous election’s results. I con­tinue to ques­tion why Is­sue 3 was taken off this year’s bal­lot. It is hard to be­lieve it is not a vic­tim of leg­isla­tive politi­cians who fear a voter re­ac­tion to the re­cent abuses of of­fice by mem­bers of both leg­isla­tive bod­ies.

Find­ing re­ally qual­i­fied, se­ri­ous can­di­dates for any of­fice, city, county, state or fed­eral is not al­ways easy. The re­wards of po­lit­i­cal of­fice both in areas of in­flu­ence and fi­nan­cial com­pen­sa­tion can at­tract both good and bad can­di­dates. Se­ri­ous, re­ally qual­i­fied can­di­dates who want to serve their con­stituents rather than meet their own per­sonal needs are not al­ways easy to find. The cost of cam­paign­ing con­tin­ues to grow as you get deeper into the “power realm” of the po­si­tions. Also the need of the po­lit­i­cal par­ties to ei­ther stay in power or take over the of­fice from an in­cum­bent have a ma­jor ef­fect on the choice of electable can­di­dates. The sim­ple truth is most in­di­vid­u­als can­not af­ford to per­son­ally fi­nance their cam­paign to chal­lenge an in­cum­bent of any party. Just hav­ing time (or mak­ing time) to cam­paign can be a strain on the fam­ily, time-wise much less ab­sorb the cost to the fam­ily’s bud­get.

My ex­pe­ri­ence on the County’s Quo­rum Court was my first po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­ity and it is an eye-open­ing chal­lenge. There is no other ex­pe­ri­ence that I know of which is as grat­i­fy­ing, chal­leng­ing and time con­sum­ing. Serv­ing in a po­lit­i­cal of­fice is a way to give back to a na­tion or a com­mu­nity if one chooses. How­ever, it is also a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence about the dark side of pol­i­tics — the money and the op­por­tu­ni­ties to be in­flu­enced by the in­di­vid­u­als who have it.

Be­cause our po­lit­i­cal sys­tem was es­tab­lished to be a ci­ti­zen’s government (you may ar­gue that point if you de­sire), I be­lieve ca­reer politi­cians should be held in check by term lim­its. The up­side would be an op­por­tu­nity for se­ri­ous and ded­i­cated peo­ple to start qual­i­fy­ing them­selves for of­fice by learn­ing more about the var­i­ous government of­fices. Term lim­its can pro­vide in­cen­tive for them to con­sider mak­ing a con­tri­bu­tion to so­ci­ety through pol­i­tics with­out hav­ing to fight the po­lit­i­cal con­nec­tions of an en­trenched in­cum­bent. The down­side, of course, is the loss of ex­pe­ri­ence in a par­tic­u­lar of­fice. My con­tention is sim­ply that few peo­ple are will­ing to fight the sys­tem which is de­signed to keep “ex­pe­ri­enced,” po­lit­i­cally con­nected, peo­ple in the of­fice they hold to se­cure the ob­jec­tives of their party.

The power of a U.S. Sen­a­tor can best be demon­strated by the open seat in Florida where mul­ti­ple mil­lions of dol­lar will be spent by the two ma­jor par­ties in an election where the win­ner’s mar­gin will prob­a­bly be a frac­tion of a per­cent — but the win­ning po­lit­i­cal party could in­flu­ence na­tional decisions by hold­ing the seat. Only the po­lit­i­cal par­ties know the true value of a U.S. Se­nate seat. This leads to the power of money af­fect­ing us na­tion­ally and it is just as true in county pol­i­tics and prob­a­bly city pol­i­tics.

A (fi­nan­cially) poor per­son with the very best of qual­i­fi­ca­tion, work ex­pe­ri­ence, per­son­al­ity, ed­u­ca­tion, etc. is not likely to move in the proper so­cial

They that can give up es­sen­tial lib­erty to pur­chase a lit­tle tem­po­rary safety, de­serve nei­ther lib­erty nor safety.

Ben­jamin Franklin

His­tor­i­cal Re­view of Penn­syl­va­nia, 1759

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