League of Women Voters Lost is confused on Measure 45 (term limits for state legislature)
I normally agree with the League of Women Voters, but on Measure 45, the LWV is not only wrong in its position, it is sending out insultingly unintelligent arguments against the ballot measure requiring term limits for Oregon State Senate and House.
The LWV has sent out a letter attacking the "flawed term limits" ballot measure. The LWV says that by voting for term limits, Oregon voters would be "disqulifying experienced and capable legislators." This in turn would "make our government less effective, less accountable and less representative." The LWV asks, "Would you want to automatically change your doctor (I assume they mean MD or DMD) every few years even if he or she was really competent and did a great job of taking care of you?"
This premise is stupid and misleading. Legislators who have fulfilled their term limits would not be automatically disqualified from public service. A State Representative who had gone through the maximum of, let's just say three terms, would still be eligible to run for that district's Senate seat, or for any other elected office. The LWV might as well just say, "If you're happy with your podiatrist, why let him/her changing specialty and practicing dermatology?" That's a silly example, but no more silly than what the LWV is putting out there.
The LWV also plays the fear card saying that, "During the 10 years Oregon lawmakers were subject to term limits, novice legislators moved into key leadership posts." The argument cites a Medford Mail Tribune editorial that stated, "The results were predictable, sessions poorly run and legitimate bills quietly sidetracked."
Without citing any examples of "poorly run" sessions and "sidetracked bills," the LWV implies that any new legislator is a defacto novice. One need only look at the voters guide to see that many veteran Oregon legislators have minimal higher education and often have little formal experience that would have qualified them with the conceptual tools and training to effectively analyze much of the legislature passed before them. As it is, the the four term high school grad with a successful tire shop or plumbing company must be, according to the LWV, more efficient with legislative sessions than somebody with no previous elected experience, but who may have a BA/BS, MA/MS, or Doctorate degree, and/or may have years of non-profit or for profit experience.
The LWV goes on to quote big media conglomerate asset, The Oregonian, from an editorial that read, "Everyone ought to know the full costs... a legislature of novices..." The LWV seems to agree with The Oregonian that any newly elected member of the legislature would be a "novice" and the results would be "lousy leadership," "more power...among lobbyists," and problems "left to fester."
Again, let's put the LWV's logic up to scrutiny. The advantage of incumbency is, according to the LWV, more important than eliminating that advantage so more people have the opportunity for public service. It is almost to say that lobbyists right now don't have their way with $18,000/year elected officials. Any turnover in the ranks of the legislature that helps eliminate the advantages of incumbency (the LWV also suggest that the advantages of incumbecy have nothing to do with donations and secular relationships with lobbyists), must result in poor leadership. The argument is inherently elitist, suggesting that nobody coming from a non-established political background could outperform the veteran legislators.
Perhaps the most audacious "evidence" the LWV uses to support its argument against Measure 45 is from a Corvallis Gazette Times editorial that said Oregon's previous experience with term limits was "a revolving door of freshman legislators who quickly dug themselves into partisan ditches with no way to build bridges that brokered comprosies or solved problems."
The LWV would have voters believe that the veteran legislator who has several terms behind them, and perhaps has been guest to multiple lobbyist paid trips to Hawaii or some other vacation hot spot, is less likely to be in the pocket of lobbyists and special interests than somebody who is stepping into public office for the first time. The LWV would have you believe that long standing relationships and acquaintances with the lobbyists who come knocking in Salem are less influential than initial overtures to fledgling lawmakers. One need only look at the US House and Senate, where calls for terms limits have been beaten back by both parties for decades, to see that incumbent power only helps to incubate arrogance and cronyism.
Though the League of Women Voters of Oregon has taken many good stands on important legislature, the voters of Oregon should not be duped by this highly disingenous appeal against Measure 45. Those who seek to strike down term limits, Republicans and Democrats, are only protecting their long-term investments in the relationships their lobbyists and PACs have made with incumbents. The more formidable the advantage of incumbency is, the less risky and more desirable the relationship to the special interests.
Measure 45 is a good law for ordinary citizens who believe public service should be just that and not an invitation to political tenureship. Measure 45 is also good for Greens, Libertarians, and other Third Parties who find that more and more often the only time Republicans and Democrats have anything in common to vote on is when it protects the two party system. Measure 45 helps prevent entrenched special interests in Salem, because every several years lobbyists will have to try all over again to buy a new politician, rather than count on the one they have staying bought. Measure 45 is good for democracy, because more elected representatives will walk through the State Capitol, bringing more divergent views and opinions to the debates behind Oregon laws.
Vote YES on Measure 45 for the good of progressive politics and democracy in Oregon.
add a comment on this article
discussion from this article