by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Disposing of term limits has always been a priority for politicians who see themselves as indispensable to their country’s future. In 2009, Hugo Chávez pushed through a measure abolishing term limits. Venezuela’s decline really began accelerating after that. In Nicaragua and Bolivia, left-wing leaders have had hand-picked courts declare existing term limits unconstitutional. In the U.S., career politicians from Nancy Pelosi in California to city-council members in New York have tried to undermine local term limits. To their credit, some politicians have noted that those limits were established by the vote of the people. …
… The gulf between incumbent officeholders and the people they are meant to serve is never bigger than on the issue of term limits. In a McLaughlin & Associates poll taken this month, fully 82 percent of Americans support a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on Congress — limits like those that bind the president and 37 of the nation’s 50 governors.
The odds that Congress would approve such an amendment are, of course, very slim, and then two-thirds of the states would have to ratify it — probably a slow process. That makes it all the more important that Americans fight for and retain term limits on other offices when they come under attack.