Another way to limit terms

April 30, 2014 

People frustrated with Illinois' leaders might be disappointed to learn that state Sen. James Clayborne, D-Belleville, voted against term limits, but they shouldn't be surprised.

A career politician like Clayborne is not going to voluntarily limit his own paycheck and power.

Of course, Clayborne didn't give that as his reason for voting "no." He said he wanted to save a place on the ballot for a vote on switching to a progressive tax -- even though as majority leader he must have known the tax bill was dead in the Senate.

His other explanation echoes a complaint frequently heard: That term limits haven't worked as hoped in Missouri, that they have shifted power from elected representatives of the people to the bureaucrats.

That may be true, but we know that Illinois' system isn't serving the public well, either.

While term limits are off the table, it appears there will be another option on the ballot that should help improve state governance.

The group Yes for Independent Maps is supposed to deliver petitions today that will get the issue of legislative redistricting on the ballot. Instead of the politicians drawing maps that benefit the party in power, this measure would set up an objective map-making process after every census. Now because of the way boundaries are drawn, most politicians are in protected districts and not answerable to their constituents. This change would result in more competitive elections, which would make politicians more accountable.

That's what the term limit proponents really want: Responsive leadership.

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