Politicians do pay a price when they break a term limits pledge: No pledge breaker has ever been elected to higher office.
In 1992, Marty Meehan ran for Congress promising to serve four terms at most. In 1995, he rebuked congressmen for violating similar pledges, saying, “The best test of any politicians’ credibility on term limits, is whether they are willing to . . . limit their own service.” Meehan even filed a letter of resignation with the House clerk that supposedly would go into effect should he break his own word. But he did break it, finally leaving Congress only in 2007.
Meehan had always wanted to be governor. That was not to be.
Term limits have always been popular, and it’s embarrassing to be known for breaking a term limits pledge.
A new outfit called Alliance for Bonded Term Limits believes more than reputation should take a hit when politicians violate a term limits pledge. They think candidates should legally contract to pay up if they wimp out.
The plan, according to their website, is to “provide a vehicle for sincere candidates to demonstrate their commitment to limited tenure in office by voluntarily bonding their term limit promise with personal assets in advance of the election. These bonded assets of substantial worth will be forfeited to charity only if their promise is broken.”
Will it work? So far, the organization just has an idea. It’s a gleam in someone’s eye. But let’s keep our fingers crossed.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.