Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

Dear Reader: This “BEST of Common Sense” comment originally aired on August 8, 2003. As a big fan of Theodor Seuss Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss — having read his books to my kids — this is one of my personal favorites. Amusing, too, that with all the hand-wringing by politicians over term limits, those actually living under the limits are showing relatively more favorable toward the limits. —PJ

“Do you like green eggs and ham? . . . Try them! Try them! And you may. Try them and you may, I say.”

Same goes for politicians and term limits. When state legislators ever-so-reluctantly try term limits, turns out that they actually like green eggs and ham, that is, term limits, better than state legislators who aren’t term-limited.

I read an endless stream of stories about how politicians, about to be term-limited, say the limits aren’t working. News flash: Politicians have always hated term limits. But now a survey commissioned by the National Conference of State Legislatures finds something surprising: there is more support for term limits among legislators in term-limited states than there is among politicians who have no actual experience with term limits.

Think about that. When asked whether term limits “promote healthy change” or “don’t work,” legislators serving under term limits in their state were 50 percent more likely to see term limits in positive terms than their unlimited colleagues.

“Say! I like green eggs and ham! I do! I like them, Sam-I-am!”

Well, I guess we shouldn’t get carried away. Even in term-limited states, legislators oppose the limits by a margin of nearly four to one. Term limits were designed to please voters, not legislators.

Still, good to know that for legislators under term limits, the idea is starting to grow on them.

Ever so slowly.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor


  1. Werner says:

    ARRRGGGG!! Again with the term-limits mantra; it’s like a religion. Term-limit advocates forget that the moment a legislator gets elected to his last term the voters cease to be constituents; they become revenue sources. The true constituents are the special interests that provide the soft landing spot. A non-term-limited legislator has to pay some attention to the voters; a term-limited one can tell them to go to hell.

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  3. Paul Jacob says:

    From numerous studies of legislative behavior, the evidence is strong that people in their final term act very much like they did in their previous terms. They do not suddenly change their spots. The problem is that non-term-limited legislators, in most districts, do not have to pay any real attention to their constituents.

  4. Werner says:

    The problem isn’t unlimited terms. It’s the fact that districts have been drawn so that the party has a lock. Look at the disaster CA has become. Politicians just have to win the primary. I don’t know how to fix the districting. CA just passed a proposition to have an independent panel be in charge of redistricting. But how independent will it really be? Who will appoint these people? To whom will they be beholden?

    Betcha Willie Brown wouldn’t have allowed the budget process to be this bad.

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