Sarasota News Leader

03/22/2013

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OPINION ���JON, WE HARDLY KNEW YE��� EDITORIAL Term limits ��� like Florida Gov. Rick Scott ��� constitute prima facie evidence that voters sometimes make abysmal decisions. Term limits were the result of one of those tsunami-like political trends that sweep periodically through the public consciousness. But term limits have had a pernicious impact on democracy and good government. Conceived as a way to get rid of entrenched career politicians, probably by their aspiring replacements, term limits have done nothing to improve government at the state or local level. Instead, arbitrarily casting seasoned politicians out of office has eliminated the institutional knowledge possessed by office holders, making their novitiate replacements dependent upon staffs for guidance on complex issues. Those staff members, themselves mostly self-serving bureaucrats, often turn to the only remaining cadre of institutionally experienced cognoscenti ��� the lobbyists. Lobbyists serve their masters. They are not elected by the public ��� although they frequently are former politicians intent on cashing in on their time in office ��� and they are not responsible to, nor do they care about, the citizens of the state or locality in which they ply their nefarious trade. Their bribes ��� ahem, their donations ��� have become the lubricious lucre that greases the machinery of government. At both the state and local level, term limits have had the unfortunate effect of virtually handing the reins of power over to these unelected political incubi. And, as the citizenry figuratively sleeps, the lobbyists have their way with the body politic.

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