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Term limits.

ITEM: Staff writer Daniel B. Wood stated in the April 27, 2004 Christian Science Monitor that the term-limits movement "has reached its high-tide mark and may be ebbing." Among the reasons he cited for the decline in the popularity of the movement were: 1) "it would throw experienced lawmakers out of government"; and 2) it made "executive branches ... relatively more powerful." He quoted University of Virginia political scientist/researcher Larry Sabato, who found that many state officials who have experienced the effects of term limitation movements "are virtually unanimous in declaring them a disaster."

AHEAD OF THE CURVE: The June 10, 1996 issue of THE NEW AMERICAN featured Attorney George Detweiler's assessment of the term-limits movement. He urged rejection of the practice for the very reasons now becoming obvious to others. For instance, Mr. Detweiler wrote: "By throwing everyone out of office after a fixed number of terms, we rid ourselves of deciding who is doing a good job and who is not. The finest and the worst are discarded by the calendar." Also, "term limits would increase the influence of the executive branch at the expense of the legislative branch."

Mr. Detweiler pointed out that Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, Roger Sherman and other Founding Fathers opposed the concept of term limits. For instance, he noted that Sherman, a delegate at the Constitutional Convention of 1787, had warned the assembly against making term limits a part of the Constitution, saying: "Frequent elections are necessary to preserve the good behavior of rulers. They also tend to give permanency to the Government, by preserving that good behavior, because it ensures their re-election." Mr. Detweiler opined: "It is difficult to challenge Sherman's logic: If a politician were not eligible to run for reelection because of term limits, what incentive would he have to please the voters?"

Mr. Detweiler concluded, "There is simply no substitute for well-informed voters who see through hollow promises and who demand that elected representatives adhere strictly to the Constitution."
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Title Annotation:Ahead Of The Curve
Author:McManus, John F.
Publication:The New American
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 31, 2004
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