To the Daily:
In Chris Koslowski’s last column, he claims that we would be better off as a nation if our representatives in Washington were limited to two or three terms (Political dynasties, 02/23/2010). As someone who spends at the least a significant portion of his year in Michigan, I would expect Koslowski to know how badly term limits have hurt this state.
First, limits would prevent anyone from becoming an experienced leader in government. This would be done by limiting the practice they can get in their position while navigating the complicated task of governing on the federal level. Furthermore, by instituting term limits you take away the ability of legislators to see projects through to completion. Along with that, you remove the threat of consequences for their blunders that aren’t immediately exposed.
If representatives are limited to only two terms, then what is their incentive to do anything or even abide by ethics rules once they are a lame duck? If you take away the threat of long-term political repercussions — such as loss of a future election — then mischief ensues. In Michigan, we have seen such choices take place in the form of using tobacco settlement money to plug budget deficits, endorsing environmentally hazardous industrial mining permits and failing to balance budgets or plan for the long-term welfare of the state. Representatives with no future to worry about have little to lose politically and thus fail to work in the best interest of their constituents.
I am not saying that representatives like John Dingell (D–Mich.) should have free reign to serve in the House until they drop dead on the floor, but I do think it is the responsibility of the voters to elect the best candidate for their district and if a dynasty candidate becomes entrenched and loses focus then it is up to the voters to elect someone else.