Merriam Webster defines coward as “one who shows disgraceful fear or timidity”. That’s a pretty strong accusation but I’m so angry at congress, lobbyists and their assorted bedfellows that I’m going to use it. Cowards is a strong word.
Often you’ll hear a term limit foe cite the lack of accountability to voters that final term politicians might feel as a reason to oppose term limits. Nonsense – how is that different from the moment a politician announces that he or she will not be seeking reelection? Not being beholden to those providing funds for your campaign releases the office holder to be more accountable to their constituents, not less.
The reasons in favor of term limits are many but two in particular stand out; money and partisanship.
“Money, money, money” (thank you ABBA) says it all. Or perhaps the song should be titled “Lobbyist, lobbyist, lobbyist”. Incumbents generate cash from their party coffers, individual contributors and most importantly lobbyists, otherwise known (appropriately) as the dreaded special interests. Retiring politicians aren’t nearly as beholden to special interests during their final term. Need an example? Donations to the Clinton Foundations have dried up since her 2016 loss. The Clintons booking of speaking engagements have oddly dried up as well. Shocking!
Just as any retiring member of congress currently demonstrates when a politician is not running for reelection they are free to break from the party line and vote their conscience. And they can speak their mind without fear of political party retribution. We’re seeing that now with several prominent members of congress not running for reelection that speaking more freely about President Trump.
The benefits of term limits to the greater population are many. However, the 535 members of congress are among the few who would not benefit from term limits. So are the lobbyists and specials interests groups. Elected officials placing their self-interest before that of those they represent is cowardly. Coward is a strong word. I’m glad I used it.