I hung a hundred campaign cards in 80 minutes yesterday… and that included one 15-minute at-the-door, in-the-chill conversation with one voter about guns, Donald Trump, and, in a pleasantly productive change of pace, term limits.
Multiple voters have asked me about term limits over the past month. I invariably acknowledge concerns about power corrupting but then respond, consistent with public statements I’ve made about term limits for years, “We have term limits: they’re called elections.”
The voter-neighbor who brought up term limits yesterday said we limit Presidents to two terms, so why not impose similar limits on other elected officials?
I turned my neighbor’s attention from the Presidential race to South Dakota races. How do you feel about your U.S. Senate and U.S. House choices?
My neighbor didn’t issue ringing endorsements of Senator John Thune or Rep. Kristi Noem, but he said they’ve both done some good things for South Dakota, and he doesn’t really know much about either Paula Hawks or Jay Williams. I mentioned the challengers’ websites, then asked the key question:
John Thune has served two terms in the Senate. Kristi Noem has served three terms in the House. Why not limit their terms right now with your vote?
Term limits, like complaints about Congress, sound great until we start talking about the Congresspeople you want to vote for.
My neighbor spun his wheels a bit. I tried to help him out of his mud: if voters are smart enough to recognize corruption in public offices, they are smart enough to vote the corrupt bums out. Why not trust the voters? Why impose some big-government rule taking away the voters’ right (and responsibility!) to pick the elected officials they trust? If 50% plus 1 of my neighbors like the “job” John Thune is “doing” (sorry, mock-quote outbreak!), why should the law take away their choice?
If my opponent has been in the Legislature for seven terms (yes! success! candidate finally brings the conversation back to the sale he came to make!), I don’t want to beat him by rigging the election rules to prevent him from running again; I want to beat him fair and square with the voters.
I don’t know if I changed his mind, but my neighbor was perfectly civil and thoughtful throughout our conversation. I’d love to know if he will decide to put theory into practice and limit anyone’s terms (Thune, Noem, Nelson, Novstrup, Kaiser) on November 8.