Rick Larsen: Term Limits – Not a Pitfall, but a Pinnacle

Elected officials and self-identified politicos often lament the apathy of the public and yet, in the case of term limits, are quick to discount resounding public support with the condescending attitude that “the public doesn’t know what’s good for them”.

Rick Larsen: Term Limits - Not a Pitfall, but a Pinnacle
by Rick Larsen

An astonishingly high 79% of Utah voters statewide would beg to differ, as they express strong support of term limits. In fact, only 5% of those surveyed strongly oppose term limits. The public couldn’t possibly make a stronger statement as to their opinion on this issue

Not so long ago, in this land of Utah, the citizens made their will known by voting for term limits…that were then promptly repealed by those who represent the people, and apparently know better.

It is disingenuous and simply arrogant to claim to be a representative of the people and yet, pick and choose the issues which they personally want to represent, disregarding others. There is no denying the strong support for term limits with men, women, Democrats, Independents, Republicans, rural and urban voters, all registering support greater than 69% for limits of state elected offices and their appointees to boards and commissions. Our directive is clear.

It’s easy to identify theoretical “pitfalls” for term limits if one chooses to ignore these compelling statistics in lieu of self-interested observations, musings and suppositions. The overwhelming public support alone warrants a healthy discussion on this issue, absent from misinformation and focused on facts.

FACT: Utah Term Limits Now (UTLN) is a citizen-driven effort seeking term limits of no more than two four-year terms on state offices and their appointees ONLY, NOT elected legislators. The included offices are governor, lieutenant governor, state auditor, state treasurer and attorney general. This fact has always been clear and anyone stating otherwise is either woefully misinformed or purposefully misleading.

FACT: The common-sense reason for this top level term limit restriction is that unlike legislators, a governor has the ability to build empires. That phrase being coined from a person who speaks from experience, Governor Huntsman. A governor can fill thousands of jobs, appoint judges and fill board and commission positions, with all on the receiving end being beholden to the giver. That is the definition of “empire building”.

FACT: It is a bi-partisan, widely-supported view shown to be effective in other states for ensuring those who govern at the executive levels are public servants and not professional politicians.

FACT:  In the space of only two weeks, 34% of contacted registered Republican voters have accepted the invitation to collect signatures for a term limit initiative and 40% and agreed to display a yard sign. Did Count My Vote have such an energetic response?

FACT: Those governing at the highest levels of our state set the agenda, for better or worse. A lack of fresh ideas or political courage is worse than an obviously inept leader because the voters will expel the latter at the ballot box, but the former can languish in office for years halting forward progress, but be untouchable due to their incumbency.

FACT: We are being blatantly dishonest if we do not recognize the safety net provided by incumbency. It is, without a doubt, a near insurmountable obstacle to overcome by opposing candidates. As a result, it has the potential to breed entrenchment, empowerment and entitlement. All unacceptable for the executive leadership of our fine state.

FACT: What better proof do we need that Utah is lagging behind than the thirty-six states who have already created more accountable government through a rotation of power by enacting term limits. This factual data is easily proven if one chooses to look at legitimate sources and not the notoriously erroneous Wikipedia, a playground for falsehoods.

Knowing politicians often support term limits to get elected and then disavow support once in office is proof this is a double-edged tool that belongs in the hands of Utah voters, not the individuals who clearly have a conflict of interest.

It is long past time to rise above “politics as usual” and stop drowning out the people’s voice with our own postulated “pitfalls”.  On this issue, the people have clearly provided the political pinnacle they desire.

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