Illinois voters are getting bombarded with TV ads featuring seemingly “everyday people” telling us we need term limits in Illinois. The idea seems like a simple solution for all the problems of ineffective government. But when you peel back the veneer, you’ll find an ugly underlying political objective at play. Incumbency doesn’t cause corruption, money does. And voters already have a very effective tool for limiting elective terms. It’s called the ballot box.
Term limits is a commonly-touted, but illogical remedy for bad government. What it does is reduce the value of incumbency, benefiting the party that’s not in power. Of course that then encourages even greater manipulation of the election process by moneyed interests. As we’ve seen far too often, a butt-load of super-pac money can easily tilt below-the-radar races like state senator or state representative. Multiply this strategy by several election cycles in targeted districts, and you can end up with a sea-change in the balance of power. That’s the Republican objective in Illinois. That’s also why you won’t see this same campaign touted in Republican states.
Those who call for term limits often want an end to politically-influenced legislative redistricting also. That certainly is a worthy concept, but again, it favors the party that’s not in power. So if the rules get changed in Democratic but not Republican states, it doesn’t take a genius to see what would happen. If redistricting reform is a good idea, then let’s make it law across America, not just in Democratic strongholds.
Kevin J. Gagen, Belleville
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