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Should States Impose Automatic Term Limits?

An editorial in today's New York Times bashes automatic term limits on political office. The predicament of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg demonstrates the discord — voters approve of the job he's doing, but would vote for term limits again if given the choice.

So why do voters favor limits that make them give up effective government leaders? The editorial explains that promises of ending gridlock and purging the system of self-serving incumbents attract voters' support.

But there is a down side to this automatic house cleaning. Term limits quickly turn leaders into lame ducks, removing their electoral accountability. Also, voters lose their choice to elect provenly capable politicians. In some ways, it distrusts citizens to make a decision in their best interest, assuming that they would not be able to identify a selfish and special-interest-entrenched politician. The question becomes whether this distrust is justified.

What do you think? Do term limits help democracy?


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