The case for term limits for politicians

Does political longevity increase political corruption?

Posted 4/17/21

By Todd Limehouse

Special to the Chronicle

State lawmakers secretly steered hundreds of millions of dollars to their non-profits via hidden budget earmarks.

This offers another reminder of …

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The case for term limits for politicians

Does political longevity increase political corruption?

Posted

By Todd Limehouse
Special to the Chronicle

State lawmakers secretly steered hundreds of millions of dollars to their non-profits via hidden budget earmarks.
This offers another reminder of just how badly our legislature falls short. 
It’s a reminder of their fondness for secrecy, of the undercurrent of self-interest just below the surface and of lawmakers’ indifference to abuses occurring in their midst.
And it’s a reminder that the SC Legislature is notoriously resistant to reform.
Lawmakers have promised for well over a decade to abolish secretive earmark spending – an atrocious practice designed to hide pet projects from us who foot the bill. 
In Columbia, inaction is an art form. 
Even plainly-needed, publicly popular reforms face long odds.
Frankly, it’s embarrassing that, in 2021, hidden earmarks remain perfectly legal.
 Enough is enough. It’s time for term limits for SC lawmakers. Term limits would pave the way for needed reform by preventing career politicians, often the main impediment to reform, from killing it.
It’s not just earmarks. 
Year after year, an array of issues cry out for reforms that never happen. 
Our ethics laws remain appallingly weak
The retiree pension fund faces a $25 billion shortfall. And we’re 1 of 2 states where lawmakers elect judges. Selection is more about who you know than what you know.
So why is reform so elusive? It’s largely because the system is dominated by career politicians. Seniority begets clout, and the longer-serving legislators hinder reform. 
They’re unwilling to shake up the system, because they’ve become part of it.
Term limits – perhaps 2 4-year terms for Senators and up to 4 2-year terms for House members – would end career politicians’ stranglehold on the process. 
Limits would make the system cleaner, smarter, more accountable and sympathetic to the concerns of ordinary taxpayers.
Term limits would bring fresh faces and perspectives into the system. That’s healthy for government. Recently-elected officials, tend to be more in touch with the views of average folks. They’re less-encumbered by special interests, and less-entrenched in the ways of the good’ ol’ boys.
Term limits would curb the corrupting influence of money in politics as lawmakers wouldn’t be repeatedly seeking re-election.
15 states limit state legislators’ terms. And momentum has been slowly building in recent years to enact term limits in SC as we do terms for governors. 
That would mean amending the state constitution requiring voter approval. 
In 2018, a term limits bill passed a state Senate subcommittee – a major milestone.
All 4 Republican candidates for governor supported the term limits bill.
In Lexington County last June, term-limits advocate Ryan McCabe ousted a longtime House incumbent in a GOP primary.
 Voters want them. Polls show they have broad, bipartisan support. It’s an idea whose time has come. 
Lawmakers who put their constituents’ wishes ahead of self-preservation will commit, at the least, to giving term limits open-minded consideration.
   Todd Limehouse is a Lexington resident and longtime Republican campaign volunteer.  

For questions or comments, please email JerryBellune@yahoo.com

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Todd. Limehouse, politics, term., limits

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