Kansas Progress Institute

Ad Astra Per Aspera ~ To the Stars Through Difficulties

Lack of Term Limits Not the Underlying Problem

Posted on March 8, 2016

By David Burress

Term limits are a fundamentally right-wing limit on democracy designed for maximum appeal to populists. The underlying notion is that there is something dirty in being a career politician. You cannot believe that and also believe in a representative democracy.
To see how it works out in practice, look to our neighboring state of Missouri–a political system traditionally even more corrupt than that which the radical right has newly constructed in Kansas. In Missouri (and everywhere else with term limits) you accelerate the revolving door: after you term-limit out, you reincarnate at the statehouse as a well-paid lobbyist. Existing legislators treat you very nice because they also want jobs when they term-limit out. So we get government of us but by and for the lobbyists.
So next the populist reformers say we need more laws limiting the revolving door. And of course we do, but:
a. somehow limits on the revolving door never happen, given that the right wing does not support them (they only support term limits), and
b. it can’t entirely work, for many reasons. E.g. you can work in a law firm that lobbies without being a registered lobbyis

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