Tuesday, May 3, 2011

CLASS STRUGGLE: Politicians versus the People in Missouri

Please help me out with my math here. Something is just not adding up.

In a 2011 vote of the Missouri State Senate, 88 percent of the legislators approved an amendment to abolish their voter-approved eight-year term limit and replace it with a cozier 16-year limit.

In a 2011 poll released this week, 77 percent of Missourians said they oppose precisely this change. Please note this is nearly the same percentage (75 percent) that voted to approve the current term limits law back in 1992.

How can these lopsided figures be reconciled? Maybe the political calculation is all too clear.

There aren't many issues in which the special interests of politicians as a class conflict so directly with the interests and demands of the people. But term limits is one of these.

The respondents in the new poll sum it up well. A full 78 percent of the Missourians polled said that lawmakers who voted to lengthen the terms are "primarily interested in keeping themselves in power," including 65 percent of Democrats, 78 percent of Republicans and 89 percent of independents.

U.S. Term Limits (USTL) commissioned the poll from Pulse Opinion Research conducted among 500 likely Missouri voters, and is now urging members of the state House to reject the proposal, SJR 12, which has already passed the Senate.

The amendment passed the Senate 29 to 4. The stalwart four are worth mentioning for putting the people's interests above their own: State Sens. Jane Cunningham, Jack Goodman, Will Kraus and Brian Nieves. If you know them, thank them for their stand.

If you live in Missouri, let your state representative hear from you right away. You can send an email to Missouri House Speaker Steven Tilley here.

Currently, the Missouri state constitution limits state senators to serve two four-year terms in office and state representatives to four two-year terms. They were enacted in 1992 with 75 percent of the vote, going into effect in 2002. No one was limited by this law until 2010.

The Senate is wasting its time and the people’s money by forcing a vote. Even if their amendment rolling back term limits is placed on the ballot, the people will crush it.

(The picture above is from a Missouri Tea Party, 2010.)