It’s September and that means politicians are girding themselves for their next run for office.
One issue that always comes up this time of year is term limits, especially when someone with incredibly lengthy service — in other words, a career politician — decides to seek re-election.
So the question came up last week in Springfield when long-serving Secretary of State Jesse White announced he would seek an unprecedented fifth term in office.
Now White is probably the most popular statewide official ever. Not only has he won four elections, he gets more votes than anyone when he does.
So the question came up for White about term limits.
His response is typical for just about everyone enjoying a popular run at the trough of public service: “I think that the voters should make the determination as to what your term should be,” he said.
What I think is the natural follow-up question to that response was never asked.
“So, Mr. White,” the erstwhile reporter never says. “You are going to lead the fight to repeal the 22nd Amendment, the one that limits the president to two terms in office?”
Just think, if there were no 22nd Amendment, Bill Clinton would probably still be president.
Anyway, I digress. The president is the only politician with term limits and it just doesn’t seem fair.
The folks who back term limits are usually political wanna-bes, the people who want Jesse White’s job, or the job of some other entrenched pol, but can’t get them out unless they go feet first.
The other class of term-limiters are folks just sick of the entrenched power. Power is entrenched usually in the legislatures — the General Assembly in Springfield and Congress in Washington. Once there, career politicians use their position and power to amass political war chests so large no one could defeat them. The term-limiters argue that the framers never meant for legislators to make careers out of their service.
Both sides have a point. It’s not supposed to be a career, as if you’re some middle manager from IBM, but if someone is great at the job, maybe they should stay.
So I have an idea that solves both problems, and maybe a couple others.
Here it is: No retirement.
Since serving in the legislature is to be considered a public service, not a career, why give the servant a retirement package? Most legislators have other jobs — attorney, insurance agent, pawn broker — why do they need a retirement?
I guarantee that if you take away the lucrative retirement these politicians have awarded themselves, they will self term limit.
And the ones who want to stay, can. They can create an IRA they fund themselves like everyone else.
As a bonus, we take a big bite out of that looming pension funding issue that will wreck the state in a few years.
So no term limits, no pension. Or the reverse, two terms or 10 years, like the president, and pension after 20 years of service. I could go either way.