Wednesday, November 12, 2008

WSJ: Nov. 4 'loudest referendum on term limits'

NOV. 11, 2008 -- Lost in Obamamania, term limits had a banner day on Nov. 4. Steve Moore of the Wall Street Journal noticed and documented it in the Nov. 11 edition of the WSJ’s Political Diary under the headline “Terms of Entrenchment”:

“Earlier this year when New York's Michael Bloomberg announced he would seek to overhaul the city's term limit law so he could run for mayor again, the political class exalted. His move, now accomplished, was said to mark a backlash against term limits, a key agenda item for conservative government reformers.

“Not so fast. In last week's election, limits on politicians' time in office were enacted or reaffirmed by enormous margins nearly everywhere they were on the ballot in what might have been the loudest referendum for term limitation by voters ever.

“Louisiana voters said ‘yes' to term limits on elected state officials by a 70% to 30% margin, making the Bayou state the 15th with term limits. Meanwhile, South Dakota's lobbying community tried to overturn that state's term limits law, approved by voters 12 years earlier. Bad idea: 76% of voters said ‘hell, no.’ That was a bigger margin of victory than when term limits were originally instituted.

“In localities ranging from State College, Pennsylvania to Tracy, California and Memphis, Tennessee, voters approved term limits by two-to-one margins. Eight of the ten largest U.S. cities now have term limits. The only setback was a slight one, when San Antonio voters approved an extension of term limits to a maximum of eight years in office from the current four years.

“‘We won everywhere,’ declares U.S. Term Limits executive director Philip Blumel. ‘In state after state and town after town across America, term limits are gradually becoming the law of the land.’ An astonishing 83% of voters polled in October answered ‘yes’ to the following question: ‘Do you favor term limits on your elected officials?’ We're hardpressed to think of a single issue in America today that commands such levels of support. What the public is most eager to see is term limits on U.S. Congress but that, alas, will require a Constitutional Amendment approved by the careerists in Congress themselves. That's like asking a cat to put a bell on itself.

“Some fifteen years ago when the term limits movement was first gaining steam, then-Rep. Dan Rostenkowski huffed that term limits would lead to a ‘Congress of mediocrity.’ A decade and a half later, many voters think mediocrity in our public officials would be a vast improvement.”