Favorite

Election snooze 

The U.S. seems likely this year to see the most expensive, most contentious and most important presidential election since I began voting. By contrast, politics on the state and local level are humdrum. Contested races are few. Many blame term limits. The theory is that, with a frequent turnover in state legislative seats, budding politicians need not challenge an incumbent. They can wait a few years for an open seat. This is a decent theory. But you don't find an abundance of contested races at the local level, where no term limits apply. Another theory worth considering is the diminished stature of public office. Many assume the worst about people who run for public office. If they are not crooks or captives of special interests, they are too dumb to capitalize on their opportunities. It's a wonder anyone decent would volunteer for a job with such a low public opinion. There's also the cost of public service. It is hard to be an effective legislator, at the local or state level, without devoting a tremendous number of hours to the job. The pay is small. Many choose not to endanger career success by diverting time to public service. If term limits are the problem, an effort is underway to solve it. Legislators have proposed a constitutional amendment to lengthen to 12 years the time a state legislator may serve before being forced out of office - now generally six years in the House and eight in the Senate. Current legislators would enjoy the extension if the measure passes. Even the politicians who once campaigned on the benefits of term limits tend to decide, once safely in office, that term limits aren't a good idea. The vote is a term limit, after all. The term limits movement is rooted in a fundamental mistrust of government and hatred of taxes. I think government is too important to be starved. But if the law is changed in Arkansas, it will be for the wrong reason. The Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and the Farm Bureau, along with other big lobbies, will lead the fight to overturn the term limits law. They will tell you that the legislature lacks institutional memory and experience. True. But, thanks to hopping between the House and Senate and the transfer of seats to kinfolk, it is also true that the legislature isn't nearly so fresh-faced as term limit proponents might have hoped. What lobbyists really hate about term limits is unpredictability. When a lobby uses campaign contributions and perks to cultivate the chairmen and key members of important committees, they'd prefer a long-term return on the investment. Now, chairmanships can change every two years, along with entire committee memberships. The lobbyist must cultivate anew every session. What's more, voting patterns aren't nearly so reliable. Legislative short-timers, rather than being more independent and courageous, turn out to be even more susceptible to whim - their own and the electorate's. Entrenched incumbents had the luxury of being able to take the long view and to resist fads. Lobbyists yearn for those good old days. I have to decide if, principles aside, I really want to be in their foxhole.
Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Hutchinson pulls Faubus move

    I don't know what if anything might arise or be planned in the future relative to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's order to end Medicaid reimbursement for medical services (not abortion) provided by Planned Parenthood in Arkansas.
    • Aug 20, 2015
  • Neighborliness, in Little Rock and beyond

    I had a parochial topic in mind this week — a surprise plan by Mayor Mark Stodola to address the Arkansas Arts Center's many needs.
    • Nov 19, 2015
  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016

Most Shared

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Don't cry for Robert E. Lee

    Congratulations are in order for Governor Hutchinson. He decided this year to devote the weight of his office to end the state's embarrassing dual holiday for slavery defender Robert E. Lee and civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr.
    • Mar 23, 2017
  • City Board discovers LRSD

    An article in Sunday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reminded me of John Belushi in "Animal House" exhorting frat brothers to rally against a dean's effort to put them out of business. "Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?"
    • Mar 16, 2017
  • Supremely disappointing

    The Arkansas Supreme Court last week delivered a blow to civil rights in Arkansas. It was another results-oriented decision that gives a clue to how far the justices likely will go to appease the legislature.
    • Mar 2, 2017
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Forest bathing is the Next Big Thing

Forest bathing is the Next Big Thing

Arkansas is the perfect place to try out this new health trend. Read all about the what, why, where and how here.

Event Calendar

« »

March

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: More on pits

    • My, my, I seem to have struck a nerve: Mr. E! Calm down, watch "The…

    • on March 27, 2017
  • Re: More on pits

    • Poor Investigator, no better than Clouseau at exposing the facts. You mistake compassion for patience…

    • on March 27, 2017
  • Re: More on pits

    • Wait, children aren't just Scooby Snacks? I suggest we not limit our freedoms to what…

    • on March 27, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation