When he wanted to win the election for Michigan Governor, John Engler supported term limits. He was loud about it. In fact, he pledged to serve only two terms. He made that pledge even though the term limits law Michigan voters passed in 1992 during his first term allowed him to serve two more terms.
Of course, that was when there was something in it for Mr. Engler; when he could extract votes on the term limits issue. In 1998 it was time for Engler to step down as he had pledged. But Engler ignored his promise. With the enormous powers of incumbency a sitting governor wields, he easily won re-election. Now Engler tells the Detroit News that he thinks the benefits of term limits were “oversold” and that they should be extended to 12 years double the limits now in place on the House of Representatives and 50 percent longer for Senators and the Governor. “Well,” said Engler, “that gives them a chance to have a reasonable career.” A reasonable career, Governor? The whole point of term limits is to make public office a public service again, not a career. Remember? Earth to Engler. Come in Engler.
John Engler rose to be a nationally respected governor by standing up for issues like term limits, not for being just another political hack looking for what’s in it for him. Our mistake. Term limits are making Michigan a better place. But that still leaves some of the state’s politicians complaining that there’s nothing in it for them.
This is Common Sense.Â I’m Paul Jacob.