It’s easy to imagine all that could be accomplished if you had the power. But it’s also easy to forget that power corrupts. That goes for you and me, too not just politicians. Once in power, our environment would change and so would the pressures we would face. And over time most likely we would change, too. Back in revolutionary days, Englishmen John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon wrote:
Men, when they first enter into [office], have often their former condition before their eyes. They remember what they themselves suffered from the abuse of power; so their first purposes are to be humble, modest and just; and probably, for some time, they continue so. But the possession of power soon alters their hearts. First they grow indifferent. Next, they lose their moderation: Afterwards, they renounce all measures with their old principles, and grow in conceit, a different species from their fellow subjects. And so, by too sudden degrees become insolent, rapacious and tyrannical. So that the only way to put them in mind of their former condition, and consequently of the condition of other people, is often to reduce then to it. A rotation, therefore, in power and [office], is necessary to a free government.
Power changes people. Not just bad people, but good people, too. That’s why we need term limits: because career politicians are no better than you and me.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.