The Bad Ideas of Tom Steyer
Term limits and referenda may sound good, but they are terrible ideas
Jonathan Bernstein has a piece at Bloomberg Opinion that is worth a read (and is on point): Term Limits for Congress? That’s a Terrible Idea.
Today’s Congress is historically weak, and one reason is the relatively short tenure of many members. As it is, short-timers allow themselves to be bossed around by experienced leaders or by the White House. That’s bad enough, but if experienced leaders were eliminated, Congress would find itself bossed by the White House and by large organized interest groups. That’s not just the logic of the situation; it’s also what political scientists who have studied term limits in state legislatures have found.
Politicians who want long careers in Congress tend to work hard to represent their constituents. Politicians who know they’ll be seeking a different job soon won’t have any incentive to care about the people who voted for them — and won’t develop the skills needed to represent them even if they want to try.
As anyone who has been following U.K. politics or California politics surely knows, asking people to vote directly on policy just seems like a way to empower them. In fact, it’s just like Congressional term limits: It’s a way to transfer influence away from regular voters and toward organized interests.
That Steyer could watch Brexit and still think national referenda are a good idea should be disqualifying on by itself.
I do not have time to go into all of this, but wanted to point out the piece. Bernstein, a political scientist, is on point.