On the EDge: Why we really, really, really need term limits

Capitol building: Photo by Vladone/iStock/Getty Images Plus; Meter: Photo by davidmariuz/iStock/Getty Images Plus; St. George News

OPINION — Political talk is unavoidable these days.

You can be anywhere, any time, in any company and somehow, some way, politics always seems to work its way into the conversation.

Conversation: “(Fill in the blank with your favorite liberal’s name) says all Republicans are racists. I’m a Republican and I’m not a racist.”

Conversation: “(Fill in the blank with your favorite conservative’s name) says all Democrats are weak, unpatriotic slobs looking for a handout.”

Of course, neither is true.

But the fact is, well, there are racist Republicans and there are slob Democrats.

I’m not quite sure, but I think we have seen the complete dismantling of our traditional party system.

Both parties have splintered so severely that it is impossible to determine the true nature of either, and the so-called third parties are so radically cast that the splinters from the left and right have overtaken them.

I mean in all honesty, radical liberals and conservatives have embraced the Libertarian Party, claiming a strange allegiance that puts some very different people in the same political camp. It has served to water down the Libertarian punch and further widen the chasm between traditional Republican Party members and those who claim allegiance to the Democrats.

We would be hard-pressed to find a true Republican in the Dwight D. Eisenhower mold or a solid Democrat who espouses the Franklin Delano Roosevelt ideology.

From Carter to Reagan, Palin to Sanders, Clinton to Bush, Obama to Trump, we’ve moved far from the essence of politics, U.S.A.

A lot of it is geographical.

A Utah Republican is much different than one grounded in New York.

A California Democrat is nothing like his or her counterpoint in Georgia.

And this business of independents trying to align with political contemporaries, whether for congressional expediency and succor or, as Bernie Sanders did, for a shot at the brass ring, isn’t helping.

Abraham Lincoln would not recognize his party if he were alive today. Of course, neither would John F. Kennedy.

There is no longer much middle ground, not that the center position is much to be admired anyway because of the watering-down effect of compromise.

That’s why we really need term limits.

No, we really, really, really need term limits, because once these guys are entrenched, we are stuck.

We had eight years of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama. While this may be satisfying to some, I think eight years is quite enough.

In fact, if the longest anybody could serve in Congress was only eight years, I would be ecstatic.

Over the years, we have had more than 100 members of Congress serve 35 years or longer, with some stretching their tenure to nearly 60 years.

If you ask Sen. Orrin Hatch, who has served in the Senate for more than 40 years, he will tell you that his tenure and experience allow him to better represent the people of Utah, even though he really hasn’t written a Utah-centric piece of federal legislation in quite some time. The same goes for Chuck Schumer. Nobody gets a pass in my book.

It can also be argued that we have the power to impose our own term limits each time we go to the ballot box, but the truth is – particularly in the case of Utah – there is no real formidable opposition, meaning the “ins” remain “in” and the “outs” remain with their noses pressed against the window.

This idea of term limits should not be restricted to the White House and Congress. It should be implemented through our state and local governments, from the governor’s office on down to our city councils.

In fact, if anywhere, it should begin locally, because those are the people who have the most direct impact on our daily lives.

People are always quick to criticize their local and state governments, but what do they do to change the situation and bring in fresh blood?

Not much.

Municipal and state elections don’t attract nearly as many voters as those times when we elect a new president, and even then, the numbers are puny.

That’s because so many have checked out of the system.

Now, with the parties so badly splintered, you can expect even more dissatisfaction as voters search for somebody who shares their voice instead of having to settle for whoever has temporarily hijacked their party.

I’ve crossed party lines many times, casting Republican and Libertarian votes in the past.

I can truthfully say, however, I don’t see anybody out there for whom I would offer my vote.

Not now.

Not from either party.

Not in the foreseeable future.

This idea of holding your nose while voting is purely repugnant to me, even though I have done so on several occasions because of an overwhelming dislike for certain candidates.

But I surely was not satisfied.

It would be nice, but impractical, to believe that a much-needed third or fourth party could become viable, but our system is simply not built to accommodate that. So we hope that our interests are somehow, some way eventually represented.

And while we are at it, we also need to overhaul our system by dumping the antiquated Electoral College, a function that has far outlived its purpose. As the last election proved, it clearly does not give a mandate. It becomes a matter of math rather than ideology and principle.

As we have seen – twice during our lifetime – it allows for certain states to wield much more power than others. I mean, truly, if you are a Democrat in Utah, what is the point of casting your vote for the White House? It’s an exercise in futility.

It is not apathy that keeps voters home on election day, it is frustration, the frustration that comes when you finally realize that “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.”

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.

No bad days!

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

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

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  • SteveB July 11, 2017 at 7:51 am

    Wow! I don’t agree with 99% of the things you write, Ed, but I agree with you on this.

  • Brian July 11, 2017 at 9:11 am

    I agree on adding term limits. Term limits are there to protect against human nature (ie. even the best humans can get blinded by power and greed over time).

    However, I couldn’t possibly disagree more on getting rid of the electoral college. It’s a genius system that makes sure politicians pay attention to ALL Americans, not just those in a handful of big cities. If we picked presidents based on the popular vote then most states, including all of the fly-over states, including the one we’re in, would NEVER see any political candidates during presidential elections. Our votes would literally be meaningless. Candidates would only campaign in massive cities, and all future presidents would be liberal and entirely tone-deaf to rural Americans. Which explains why Ed (and most other liberals) are pushing for the popular vote.

    The electoral college, along with so many other things, shows the genius and vision of the Founding Fathers.

    • 42214 July 11, 2017 at 3:14 pm

      Agree 100% with Brian. Doing away with the electoral college would be a huge mistake.

    • ereeseas590 July 11, 2017 at 9:43 pm

      I agree with Brian on adding term limits and leave the Electoral College in place. Removing the Electoral College would simply enable three large states, i.e. California, New York and Illinois to control the outcome of every presidential election and override states with smaller populations.

      Seems to me that a more effective resolution would be to eliminate the 60 vote rule in the US Senate. Our country is so closely divided now between Democrats and Republicans that other than being the most deliberative body, nothing is accomplished in the Senate than rhetoric. That must be changed in the near term and will get this country moving much sooner than applying term limits. As long as the party out of power can prevent legislation from being considered and sent to the House or the Executive Branch for enactment the Senate and the country will remain hopelessly bogged down. The citizenry demands more!

      Finally, I believe that political opinion columnists should be added to the list of term limited individuals. We need the continued flow of new ideas to sustain our republic.

  • Proud Rebel July 11, 2017 at 9:17 am

    While I agree with Ed on this, I don’t think it goes far enough. How about the behind the scenes political bosses? The movers and shakers of the parties?
    As long as they keep pulling the strings, the puppets will continue to dance. This last election should make it obvious that party leaders are at the least, totally incompetent, and much more likely, crooked as hell!
    A note to Ed here; are we both growing up and becoming a bit more intelligent? Or are we both just getting old and senile?

  • tcrider July 11, 2017 at 9:46 am

    Bernie Sanders did not have one practical solution for any problems, he was having a, give away everything for free contest with obama and hillarious. First Obama said he was going to grant all the illegal immigrants in this country citizenship and insurance, and then we had hillarious saying we were going to grant citizenship to 100000 syrians, and also give them free health insurance,
    And then to top this all off, We had Bernie Sanders trying to out do obama and hillarious by granting the same citizenship and paying off everyones student loan debt.
    In the mean time the average middle class U.S. citizen could not retire, that hit retirement age.
    This was the reason the Dungle Trump won the election, he did not promise free everything to everyone that does not contribute towards it.
    The Democrats have a major leadership problem and need to get their act together.
    The Republicans are having some major ethical issues and need to unite.
    In the mean time,
    The Dungle Trump,
    never my steaming pile.

    • tcrider July 11, 2017 at 10:15 am

      This was just my ranting, as far as Eds article, shorter limits are way past due

  • Utahguns July 11, 2017 at 10:04 am

    Ed, please accept my comments as a way to balance the landscape for which you speak.

    You mention Orrin Hatch, (who by the way has been more focused and accomplished than say Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters, Barbara Lee, Bernie Sanders and Harry Reid ever were) as an example of extensive service. OK……
    You also mentioned that there are over 100 senators who have served in Congress 35 years or longer. OK…….

    What you failed to mention that over 67% of these senators were or are Democrats.
    1. Robert C. Byrd (D-WV) 51 years, 5 months, 26 days

    2. Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI) 49 years, 11 months, 15 days

    3. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) 46 years, 9 months, 19 days

    4. Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT) 42 years, 4 months

    5. Carl T. Hayden (D-AZ) 41 years, 9 months, 30 days

    6. John Stennis (D-MS) 41 years, 1 month, 29 days……………….and there’s many more…..

    Also you say, “truly, if you are a Democrat in Utah, what is the point of casting your vote for the White House?”
    I say, “if you were a Republican in D.C., Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, California, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont, what was the point of casting your vote for the White House in the last eight years?” And yes, I did hold my nose when I voted for Romney….

    Overall Ed, your article does have merit, and I agree that there should be term limits, completely across the board for all political offices.

    Again, my contributory comment is to try to somewhat balance out the topic you bring up.

  • ladybugavenger July 11, 2017 at 10:35 am

    If we the people are the government (that’s what I was taught in school) and we the people want term limits then what do we the people have to do to get term limits.

    Oh and I love how all of a sudden the electorial college is an issue since Hillary wasn’t elected lol….the electoral college is exactly why I never voted until 2016. I’m not alone and that’s why Trump won and it was a shocker to all you Hillary fans 🙂

    • ladybugavenger July 11, 2017 at 10:40 am

      Oh and Russia didn’t interfere with my vote. Hillary was corrupt way before the email scandal. Hillary’s agenda was continuing obama’s agenda of making this country a 3rd world country with everyone on government assistance so that government has total control. Go Trump! Make America, America again.

    • ladybugavenger July 11, 2017 at 4:49 pm

      And one more thing lol…because of people like me some blue states turned red…it was beautiful, wasn’t it? I think so. I’ll tell ya tho, I was worried for a moment when the votes were being counted and for the first time, I said, maybe he won’t win…but he did! It was absolutely amazing! And then there were riots and protesters and people getting hurt and angry and mad and threatening to move (bye!) and talking about thoughts of blowing up the White House, and bad terrorist images of trumps head….oh boy! They all need anger management! God Bless America!

  • Hugh Jass July 11, 2017 at 4:20 pm

    Since our most recent election cycle, whenever anyone brings up an overhaul of the ‘antiquated’ electoral college, I want to ask, “Have you seen the map? Are you color blind? What is the predominant color on the map?” If, like me, you see more red than blue, then the electoral college is doing exactly what it should! Clearly, more of the country voted for the republican than voted for the democrat, even if it didn’t come out that way in the popular vote numbers. Oh, and while I’m at it, if the Russians interfered with the election, why did Hillary get the most votes? Either the Russians sucked at interfering or they were interfering for the democrat or maybe THEY didn’t understand the electoral college and only interfered in the big cities (?) All the theories have more holes than swiss cheese….
    But, term limits ARE WAY OVER DUE! And Hatch is a PRIME example!

  • DB July 11, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    I’m all for term limits. However, I’d propose twelve years. That’s three terms for a Congressman, two for Senators. P.S. I feel sorry for Sen Hatch. If he runs for election again, I think he will lose.

  • Common Sense July 11, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    I can’t believe I am saying this either. Ed, I agree with you on term limits for all and doing away with the electoral college. I have always felt like my vote never counted and due to the electoral college it literally does not. I am also happy, even though I typically do not agree with you or like much of what you say, we have a common ground and that is the start of something great!

    • Brian July 12, 2017 at 8:59 am

      I can see how a liberal in Utah would feel their vote doesn’t “count” with the electoral college (and indeed in many local races, using the popular vote, how they still don’t “count”). As a non-Republican conservative I can totally relate.

      What you have to realize though is that by eliminating the electoral college the votes of NEARLY EVERYONE in flyover America won’t “count”, because they’ll constantly outweighed by the population centers (literally 5 or 6 big cities will be enough to carry the popular vote).

      Go to this page (https://www.nytimes.com/elections/results/president) and click “Counties” next to the map and look at the sea of red that represents the vast majority of tangible production in this country (food, energy, goods).

      If we ditch the electoral college you’ll have the people who keep this country alive by putting food on the table and creating electricity and building cars and widgets completely outweighed (ie. disenfranchised) and subservient to the people living in a handful of cities that are the money and political centers. Do you know what that looks like after 50 years? It looks exactly like the Hunger Games books / movies, where all the real work is done in the “districts” (ie. rural America and the flyover states), and all the control and “culture” (for those that accept it as such) come from the “capitol” (ie. the big cities). I can guarantee you it won’t work out well.

      So yes, the electoral college is imperfect. Yes, people in some states (including me and you) feel like their votes don’t always “count”, but the exact same phenomenon happens without the electoral college, only much, much worse.

  • Lastdays July 12, 2017 at 8:14 am

    We have term limits already. It’s called Voting on Election Day !
    Oh wait, that hasn’t been working very well. Probably because there is only about 20% of the people, on average, who ever take the time to vote.
    Of that group, only a small percentage are informed. The rest are low information voters.
    So in order to win an election, a candidate only needs 51% of those who actually bother to show up to cast votes for them.
    It’s not the politicians fault they’re in office so long, it’s the fault of the majority of citizens who don’t bother to vote.

    Also, the Electoral College is not broken. Without it the Presidential Candidate would only need to campaign in a handful of large cities on each coast line. Once they had that vote, the other 90% of landmass in the nation wouldn’t count.

    Sorry your guy didn’t win Ed, I felt the same way when Barry won twice.

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