They call New York City “The Big Apple,” and New Yorkers like to think that, as the song says, “If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.”
So it is with career politicians, too. In New York City, the city council has been a haven for entrenched career politicians spending decades in power. However in 1993, New Yorkers approved term limits with a 60 percent vote.
That didn’t settle the issue for the politicians on New York’s city council, however. In 1996, the council came back with a referendum to delay and deny term limits. The politicians who hated term limits were going to “fix” them. But voters caught on and kept term limits just as they passed them.
Then some clever council members discovered what they believed was a legal loophole: let’s just repeal the limits without the voters having any say-so! Soon-to-be termed-out council members signed on to the repeal in droves. But New Yorkers were furious, public hearings were packed, candidates gearing up to run for open seats in what promised to finally be competitive elections refused to back down. In short, council members caught hell. So they backed down. The people won, again. Even The New York Times , long an opponent of term limits, admitted that, “A large-scale change on the Council might provide a wealth of new ideas.”
Term limits have made it in New York City. And if we can make it there, we can make it anywhere.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.