Listen to God\’s Voice

Words of wisdom for today

A politician Just Won’t Go

from John Birch Society

What’s a voter to do when a politician just won’t go?

Michael BloombergNew York Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks in London in front of a portrait of Britain’s King George III. Bloomberg has sought a way around term limits laws that would prevent his reelection to a third term.

Americans increasingly face that dilemma as elected officials nationwide bump up against the term-limits many localities passed in the 1990’s. Rather than leave the limelight as the laws decree, politicians who’ve exhausted their time in office seek ways to circumvent the voters’ clearly expressed will. The incumbents cite startlingly similar excuses, ignoring their curtailed careers in favor of a touching concern for the electorate. They claim that restricting their feed time at the public trough restricts our choice at the polls. If voters want to re-elect a guy who’s already haunted City Hall for eight years, isn’t that their right?

New York City is a case in point. Residents of the Big Apple voted in 1993 that politicians must step aside after two consecutive terms. Nothing prevents the ousted ruler from reigning for two terms, sitting one out, and then returning to power. But even that brief hiatus irked the City Council. A few years later, it pleaded for three consecutive terms. Voters refused.
Not much has changed since then. New York’s politics are as dysfunctional and corrupt as ever; the council’s neophytes entertain citizens with just as many scandals as the veterans who preceded them; taxes are still higher than the Empire State Building. Politicians could certainly argue that while term limits fill assemblies and councils with inexperienced legislators instead of smooth operators, they haven’t improved anything. Yet polls show that 65% of New Yorkers still favor them.
No matter: it’s time for another try at overturning the people’s will, else Mayor Michael Bloomberg and most of the City Council will have to find honest work when their second terms expire in 2010. And so recent months saw them scrambling to extend their tenure. How to do that when voters have already twice rejected this ploy? Simple: don’t allow them a say in it this time. Instead, resurrect an obscure precedent from 1961 in which the State Court of Appeals authorized Buffalo, New York, to repeal the public’s vote for term limits. Then argue that this allows New York City’s Council to do the same. Accordingly, the council introduced legislation a couple weeks ago inviting incumbents to try for another four years on the taxpayers’ dime.
Only we silly citizens remained opposed, so the mayor worked tirelessly to save us from ourselves. Bloomberg not only shucked his former vehement support for term-limits, he pressured everyone from legislators to charities that depend on his donations to back his new stance.
He also bribed one of term limits’ biggest advocates into a switch as hypocritical as his own. Cosmetics king Ron Lauder believes so thoroughly in throwing the bums out after two terms that he finances much of the term limits movement. But he also wants his fellow billionaire to control New York for another four years, so he favored exempting Bloomberg alone from the law. Therein lay a problem: councilmen would vote to extend Bloomberg’s tenure only if that also extended their own. Ergo, the mayor bought Lauder’s approval for a universal third term with a spot on a commission that will “reconsider” term limits. And in 2010, when the whole thing is moot because it can no longer hinder Bloomberg’s re-election in 2009, the commission will even permit voters to insist for a third time that yes, indeed, they want term limits. Cynics may consider this postponed referendum yet more evidence of the mayor’s jaw-dropping gall, but Bloomberg maintains he has only the interests of us lesser, stupider mortals at heart: he “says it would be too confusing for voters to consider term limits and elect a mayor at the same time.”
Such blatant arrogance, duplicity, and corruption should have shamed politicians to silence. But they’re made of stern stuff. While contravening our clear preference for term limits, they prattled about respecting our right to choose. G. Oliver Koppell, a Democratic councilman from the Bronx, worried that term limits “rob the public of a choice.” Bloomberg seconded that when he announced his plans to seek another four years in direct violation of the law. “…[W]hat it really does is…just gives voters another option,” said the pharisee who championed term limits until they threatened his job and power. “…[Voters] just have another choice. And they will be able to make that choice.” So long as it agrees with Michael Bloomberg’s.
Obviously, the last thing politicians from either major party care about is a choice at the polls. In fact, Democrats and Republicans work hard to confine our selections to their candidates. First, the state legislatures they almost entirely compose write election laws. Not surprisingly, lawmakers craft these regulations to exclude all contenders but theirs. That begins with their definitions of “political party;” unknown, struggling third parties must garner an impossibly high percentage of votes in an election (Oklahoma says 10%; Tennessee wants 5%) or submit huge numbers of signatures (20,000 in Arizona, 7000 in North Carolina) before they become “official.” Until then, onerous “ballot-access” requirements exhaust small parties staffed by volunteers and running on a shoe-string.
For example, putting Pat Buchanan on the ballot as their presidential candidate cost the Reform Party $250,000 in 2000 – and that was just for Texas. Eight years later, the Libertarian Party has spent $750,000 plus countless hours from volunteers so that voters in 45 states can pull the lever for its presidential slate, let alone the time, money, and effort expended on candidates for local offices.
But just because a third party collects enough signatures doesn’t mean you can vote for its nominee in November. If Democrats or Republicans fear the independent candidate will “steal” support from theirs (as though the major parties own our votes), they’ll “challenge” him. Often they succeed in throwing the third party off the ballot over a technicality.
Are term limits in themselves a blessing or a curse? I don’t know. They may be a tiny Band-aid on the gaping wound that now festers as the American political process; they certainly aren’t the only solution to what ails us. But in voiding them as New York’s City Council did when it passed its third-term legislation last Thursday, professional politicians showcase their deceit and hauteur.
Why vote for such delinquents even once?

Written by tfheringer

November 3, 2008 at 8:19 pm

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