On the EDge: Hatching plans for term limits

Stock images, St. George News

OPINION – When all else fails, there’s always Mitt Romney.

He was the hope of Republicans who wanted to unseat Ted Kennedy in 1994. He lost.

He was called upon to figurehead the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City when scandal and fraud almost caused the games to be shipped somewhere else. He got the save on that one.

Then there was a successful term as Massachusetts governor, particularly his health care reform that was the blueprint for the Affordable Care Act.

Romney was riding the political elevator upward, becoming a contender in the national arena.

That’s when he decided he wanted to be president.

He tried to run as a political outsider, even though he was deeply entrenched in the Massachusetts GOP machine and had politics in his blood: His father, the highly respected George Romney who served as Michigan governor, failed in his attempt for the GOP presidential nomination in 1968 and went on to become Secretary of Housing and Urban Development during the Nixon administration.

Mitt wanted the GOP nomination in 2008. He lost the bid to John McCain.

He won the nomination in 2012. He lost to Barack Obama in the election.

When Donald Trump began giving Republicans heartburn Mitt was trotted out again and suggested as a possible alternative candidate when it seemed party leaders finally got their fill of the reality TV star, but it never came to pass and Mitt sat out the 2016 election.

Now, Mitt Romney is being mentioned as a possible successor to Sen. Orrin Hatch, who has represented Utah in the U.S. Senate since his election in 1976.

Interestingly, Hatch, who is the longest-serving Republican Senator in U.S. history, launched his initial campaign targeting the service of incumbent Frank Moss, a three-term Democrat.

“What do you call a senator who’s served in office for 18 years? You call him home,” Hatch said then, arguing that Moss and many of his Congressional cohorts had lost touch with their constituents and needed to be replaced.

Hatch, 83, now claims that his longevity in the Senate gives him the experience and clout to represent his Utah constituency more deftly.

But, he is getting long in the tooth and has hinted that he may not make another run for office next year when his term expires.

We’ve heard this before, of course, but this time Hatch is playing a sort of cat-and-mouse political game and walking back a recent statement to the “National Journal” that he has “expressed interest” to Romney in having him seek his Senate seat and would step aside “if I could get a really outstanding person to run for my position.”

This gained traction when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stoked the fires saying he has had conversations with Romney about running, adding the caveat,”Obviously, I’m an Orrin Hatch supporter. And Orrin has to decide what he wants to do. If he wants to run again, I’m for him.”

But, it might not be a slam dunk for Romney.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz is sitting in the wings.

He’s saying all the right things about Hatch. In interviews with The Hill, Chaffetz said Hatch is “a good senator, a conservative senator,” but that he “still might run against him.”

Using the same strategy Hatch used to win his first Senate race, Chaffetz said: “He’s asking voters to keep him in for 42 years. He’ll be 84 years old at the end of his next term.”

The GOP outlook gets even cloudier when you factor in former Washington County politician Steve Urquhart, who was smacked down when he tested the waters against Hatch in 2005.

Urquhart served in the Utah House from 2001-2009 and in the Utah Senate from 2009 until last year when he gave up his seat to take a job as global ambassador for the University of Utah.

Granted, Urquhart would be a dark horse candidate, but he is certainly a known entity in Utah politics and should not be disregarded.

While I am certainly not a fan of ageism, I am a fan of term limits.

If we can restrict presidents to two terms, why not Congress?

Limiting the House and Senate to two four-year terms – House members serve two-year terms, Senators serve six-year terms – would help to put the brakes on the professional politician, cut back on the influence of special interests – from the NRA to Big Oil and Big Pharma – and establish a serious set of checks and balances on our Congress, where the real seat of power resides.

Over the years, we’ve seen presidents, senators and members of the House give lip service to legislation to limit how long elected officials could serve. It has even been a part of party platforms, but it has never taken hold.

Theoretically, it is argued, the decision is in the hands of voters.

However, most voters take the easy way out. That’s why 94 percent of House members and 83 percent of the Senate are re-elected in any given election year. The garden never gets properly weeded.

Plus, as we have seen, power corrupts, which is why we have so many millionaires in Congress.

They are the advantaged class, flush with cash and perks that would make most rock stars pale in comparison.

How can they relate to you and me?

They don’t worry about stretching a paycheck, they don’t shop at Costco, they don’t buy their clothes at J.C. Penney or Target.

And, while we may see some renegades jumping into the fray as so-called political outsiders, most of them are deep inside the money game with years of privilege and wealth, which still doesn’t translate into understanding the plight of the working class.

Would term limits solve all of our problems?

Probably not.

But, it would solve enough to help stem the tide of cynicism and distrust in a system polluted by lobbyists and special interests.

No bad days!

Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist for St. George News. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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  • Brian April 11, 2017 at 8:13 am

    The Founding Fathers understood human nature and history sooooo much better than any of the selfish clowns we have in politics now. The genius of the Constitution is that it placed significant limits on the damage that can be done by human nature. Checks and balances and the division of power into separate branches of government protect us from human nature at the individual level. The balance between the states and the federal government was to protect us at the institutional level (we’ve really screwed that one up, which is why states like California and New Jersey can have their stupidity so subsidized).

    I fully support term limits for the House and Senate (and repealing the 17th amendment, which turned Senate races into popularity contests and neutered the states). I’d like to better understand ~why~ the Founding Fathers chose 2 year and 6 year terms, before changing those lengths willy nilly, but otherwise I agree.

    Hatch may have started out good, but for a long time he’s been a big part of a corrupt system and needs to go.

  • comments April 11, 2017 at 11:00 am

    Yep, that’ll be the day–when congress votes to have term limits put on themselves. This is the same crew that’s always voting themselves pay raises and upgraded job perks. Too funny.

  • Allie April 11, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    Brian addressed the issue much more eloquently than I could. He is absolutely correct. Hatch has been part of the problem for too long. We need to push for term limits which favor the voters, not the politicians. Simplify things, make all one, 6 year term for the House, Senate, and president. The House and Senate get 1/6th new members every year. The president gets only one term. In addition we should also mandate that once a person is elected and served a term they can no longer work in ANY government job, or private sector job which provide direct government services. Also, no family member can run for House, Senate or President. We have enough people in this country who can bring new ideas, we don’t need the same old farts or family members spouting their lies. Politicians today are more committed to their party and themselves than what is good for the country. Winning is more important than making this country better. Repeal and Replace of the ACA is a good example. They whined for 7 years about how awful the bill was, but did they do anything, ANYTHING to make it better, or make any plans how to make it better? When they finally had the opportunity to put a better idea in place they had no plan after 7 years. They looked like a bunch of idiots. They all need to step back and look at the big picture and we have to take charge of the kindergarten in DC. They need to be reminded they work for us.

    • comments April 11, 2017 at 3:01 pm

      Yep they did. They had 7 years to craft a health plan that works and they failed miserably. Republicans showed their true colors with that one, and ‘the donald’ just parked his head in the sand and went along with it–turned it over to paul ryan, one of the worst of the worst.

  • Henry April 11, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    Ed, it’s a no-brainier that you’re right about the need for term limits. The only thing you should’ve included is that this is a problem for both parties.

    The oldest member of the Senate isn’t Hatch, it’s Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein from California. She’ll turn 84 in June, and in a recent interview Feinstein indicated that she’ll run again next year.

  • commonsense April 11, 2017 at 10:00 pm

    Yes I would loved to limit Shurmer, Pelosi, Feinstein, Boxer but the founding fathers got it right.
    The best term limit is the ballot box. Do you wants rookies running congress? Such turnover would create chaos.

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