Critic of term limits
From: Jim Kraft
This letter is written in response to Janet Sloan's letter of May 10 [The Howard County Sun, Readers Write, "Term limits are needed"]. I assume from the contents of her letter that it was written in response to my letter of the previous week. However, those contents, in many ways, bear such little relation to the points made in mine that it may be reaching on my part to make such an assumption.
I find it interesting that she writes "on behalf of all Americans." This is an awesome responsibility. Is she including the 54 percent of the voters in Washington state who voted against Initiative 553 in November 1991? What about the Republican Party of Maryland which has taken an official position against congressional term limitations?
I never said that "term limitation is unconstitutional." I said the right to vote was "a constitutionally protected fundamental right." The California Supreme Court did not rule differently; it could not.
I did not say that "term limitation is a Republican conspiracy." I am not a "conspiracist." I simply stated that this type of legislation has been promoted by the Republican National Committee.
Sloan is correct in stating that there is bipartisan support for term limitations. Nothing that I wrote stated or implied otherwise. Just because there is bipartisan support for this issue does not make it right. It is still a bad idea.
It does not matter to which party those "thrust . . . from office" would belong. Term limitations would not restore choice to the ballot box and it would not increase voter participation. In fact, it would deprive voters of the right to choose to keep an effective elected official.
My concern also is not with the future of the Democratic or Republican parties. It is for the future of representative government and participatory democracy in this country.
The advocacy of her position is typical of the solutions put forward through the '80s. It is the easy way out. It relieves citizens of their obligation to monitor their government. It will, in fact, discourage one of Sloan's main goals, i.e., greater voter participation.
Term limitations would result in an abandonment of our ultimate responsibility in this great participatory democracy -- to choose those whom we wish to lead us.
Finally, term limitations are fashionable and trendy today. When I think of them, however, I am reminded of the words of Benjamin Franklin. He said that those who would sacrifice essential liberties for temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
I hope that our voters will take these words to heart when they decide whether to sign Sloan's petition and/or support her cause.