Limitations of Term Limits

In a post on Dialectics Simplified, Langalibalele makes a strong case against the concentration of wealth and power and for their dilution through cooperatives and collectives. The chief reservoir of concentrated political power today is, of course, the two party system and so he argues for the modest aim of imposing term limits on entrenched political elites. He writes: "How do people dilute political power, that is, how to strip it from the control of a bloodsucking, capitalist two-party system? This same two-party system has led the world economy directly to this seething crisis point. So by imposing term limits the masses can erode this power and the influence of the corporate financiers who back them. Build upon the outrage against the current Congress and other politicos. Demand term limits; even build work for a referendum. This must be done."

The underlying paradox here is that people who desire to 'throw the bums out,' as the saying goes, nonetheless continue to re-elect them term after term. Term limits would indeed force some amount of change in this regard, but, absent third party activism, their imposition would do nothing to dilute the power concentrated in the hands of the duopoly parties and likely lead only to a higher turnover among representatives of the duopoly. On the other hand, term limits would also constrain the potential political effect of non-duopolist candidates who succeed in obtaining office. In this regard, ensuring ballot access to parties typically excluded from the political process would provide the disenchanted and discontented among us with greater latitude in effecting political change than the imposition of term limits.

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