Experience. You know what that is. What you collect when you’re a career politician looking for ever more clever ways to spend other people’s money and complicate other people’s lives. “Oh, we need experienced legislators here!” cry the expert denizens of our state capitol buildings. “It takes decades to get up to speed, given how complicated we make the legislative process! Don’t term-limit us! Heck, the freshmen take months just to find the bathroom. It would be chaos!” Or so says the career politician.
But let’s forget about bathrooms. Now it turns out that freshmen can’t even find the right elevator. Perhaps the problem is specific to Florida, where term limits are kicking into gear this session. It seems that no elevator in the Florida capitol building goes to every single floor, a setup that perplexes some of the new legislators.
When Florida voters passed term limits with a whopping 77 percent of the vote, they were saying that new ideas from the real world are more important than experience in the legislature, and that the courage to act on those ideas is more important than the perks of entrenched public office. And the track record in Arkansas, California, and other states shows that legislatures under term limits can greet newcomers and still get stuff done.
But maybe the Florida model offers hope for career politicians just the same. Maybe there’s a way careerists everywhere can rig the elevators, too, so that only those who have been studying the blueprints for 10 or 20 years can ever get to the right floor.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.