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Fourth and final installment of a series of articles on term limits by Anthony Mc Ivor.
LA MESA -- Sorting and appraising the various impacts that term limits have on a community is no simple matter. La Mesa voters can get to the heart of it with three key questions. One, do term limits expand voters’ fundamental freedoms? No, they restrict them. Two, is La Mesa’s civic life so damaged or “rotten” that the cost of such radical regulatory intrusion is justified? Again, the answer is a firm no. Three, do term limits even work? The record says no. Three for three and the answer is the same: No.
Term limits hurt voters. By banning a class of candidates, they violate every citizen’s right to freely choose our representatives. Not just once, but from then on. President Reagan called term limits “a mistake.” The President said “I think (limits are) an infringement on the democratic rights of the people.”
Limits proponents ask us to vote now to place restrictions on our voting in 2026 and beyond. That’s not a joke. That’s the reality of a particularly ill-thought-out proposal. Why would we not allow the citizens most directly affected, those voting 15 to 20 years from now, to chart their own course? Why should we tie the hands of future La Mesans? By what right?
Term limits are wildly out of place in La Mesa. They are a phony solution to an imaginary problem: career politicians. La Mesa does not suffer the yoke of a “ruling class” of career politicians. La Mesa is not a city where, as the activists have it, “virtually everyone in office goes bad.” Comparing our part-time, just one-vote-out-of-five, mayor to the president or governor is absurd.
The current Council has not brought the city to ruin. In fact, with the new OpenGov platform for financial data, the workings of our local government are more transparent than ever. Nothing in our civic life warrants modifying the Municipal Code to impose limits on our electoral freedom.
Term limits are a failure. This political experiment has already inflicted needless waste at voters’ expense. Not just in Sacramento, but in jurisdictions across the country. Arkansas’ House Speaker offers a recap of the aftermath: “They don’t work. If (their) impact doesn’t give you cause for concern, it should.”
What is the definition of “work”? Activists promise that term limits will result in greater transparency, new ideas, less corruption, better governance and the end of career politicians. After 25 years of experimentation, limits proponents cannot identify a single American jurisdiction that realized those promises. Not one.
If you have any doubt about the wisdom of surrendering even a small slice of the freedom to choose your future, the Founding Fathers offer a valuable lesson. After vigorous and lengthy debate, the Founders set term limits aside. Instead, they decided in favor of the people and left representation in the hands of the voting public. With that, the Founders guaranteed for us one of America’s most distinctive and precious freedoms. It was an astute decision then and it still is today.
Series Part I: CLICK HERE.
Series Part II CLICK HERE.
Series Part III: CLICK HERE.