Term limits: combating political complacency

Every office must be occupied by a vibrant, creative, forward-thinking personality with only our future best interests foremost in their mind before, and most certainly, after, the elections

BELLOWS FALLS — The nation's founders strongly believed in rotation in office. Term limits were left out of the Constitution because they could not foresee a time when politics would become a career for so many people.

There are currently petitions out in Bellows Falls and Rockingham asking for the term limits question to be placed on the next annual meeting ballots.

Once they become articles, the discussion will continue, hearings will be open to the public, and we all will have an opportunity to move our leaders forward into the future for our children and their children.

In today's world, it is easy to spot career politicians. You know them. They are our local, state, and executive officers who always have “one more thing” they want to see through to its completion.

Their platform is built on yesterday's news and forgotten wins and losses. They lean heavily upon “their years of service” and the relationships they have built - accomplishments that they believe cannot be done by another.

We cannot gauge their effectiveness by these things - only the outcomes.

No politician should be a placeholder. Every office must be occupied by a vibrant, creative, forward-thinking personality with only our future best interests foremost in their mind before, and most certainly, after, the elections.

We must therefore look closely at their track records to reveal the value, to weigh the return on our investment.

Yes, that is what our elections are: a societal investment for our future and that of our children. So when we see that the investment was misguided, poorly placed, or ineffective, we can make future adjustments at the next election.

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But we are human, after all, and we become tired, complacent, and apathetic with the system, so we feel our vote will not make a difference.

We may fail to show up at each and every election to make our voices heard. We may not express to our neighbors how we might change the movement of our governments by changing the lineup of elected officials at board meetings.

A career politician will most certainly be pushing for her or his vote, along with the backing of others - on that you can be certain - and they might very well be re-elected.

Local party voting infrastructure, redistricting power, media contacts, and the like are the political machinery in motion for incumbents which drive away new candidates and drown them in debt in their attempts to be heard over the din of this crowd.

Complacency in office can lead to special interests being courted as well as questionable spending, in opposition to the Vermont Constitution, as is written in Chapter 1, Article 7: “That government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people, nation, or community, and not for the particular emolument or advantage of any single person, family, or set of persons, who are a part only of that community; and that the community hath an indubitable, unalienable, and indefensible right, to reform or alter government, in such manner as shall be, by that community, judged most conducive to the public weal.”

The urgency of being re-elected wastes the energy of almost a whole year in office on campaigning instead of serving the public good.

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Nowhere have people failed to restrict the terms of service of their legislators when able to vote on term limits, which would would remedy these errors. This vital political reform would bring fresh perspectives, new game-changing ideas, and reinvigoration of the political process for both the voters and those whom they elect.

The arguments of those opposed to term limits on public offices - the loss of a valuable knowledge base, the task of rebuilding relationships groomed over years, and that elections serve as a self-correcting term-limit process - are few and easily refutable.

The first two are easily supplanted with providing experienced politicians with committee seats and mentorship positions to make their years of knowledge and service available to the newer electorate. They can continue to serve in this capacity.

The last argument against term limits is the problem we originally described: our lives have become busier than ever, and many of us miss the opportunities to exercise our right to an open, vibrant government.

So make the system work for us, not against us. Choose term limits to prevent stagnancy in our government and more vibrant constructive thinking at every level.

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