Term limits seen as giving people what they want
Andy Shaw says that although term limits have not proven to be effective at addressing systemic political problems, if that's what the people of Illinois want, it's what they should get.
Shaw, the leader of the non-profit Better Government Association, recently wrote about term limits in a column for Crain’s Chicago Business.
“ 'Throw the bums out!' is an old baseball cliché that also expresses, poignantly and succinctly, a growing voter antipathy toward career politicians who seem to care more about their pay, benefits, perks and longevity than our need for sound decisions that benefit us, the public," Shaw said. "I’ve been watching the anger and disillusionment of Illinois residents deepen and intensify for the past 45 years."
He said that term limits are a foundation of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s agenda, and the fact that the majority of voters favor the reform is not at all surprising, with lopsided control already evident in the Capitol.
Shaw believes that Illinois state government is in bad shape, citing deficits, instances of corruption and pension issues. He also looked at what term limits could mean in Illinois, based on the their success or failure elsewhere.
Shaw said that less than one-third of all states have imposed term limits in state government, some of which still meet with financial and oversight problems. Of those that have not adopted term limits, several were not stellar examples of good governance to begin with, he said.
Some legislators also got around term limits by switching between House and Senate seats when their terms were set to expire.
Overall, Shaw sees term limits as neither necessarily bad nor good, but also cited an overwhelming response in favor of term limits from readers on a Facebook page that had posted the same information.
He agreed that Illinois residents deserve the chance to decide on the matter themselves, and called for a referendum following discussion.
In a recent Sangamon Sun article, host Dan Proft of Illinois Rising Radio also warned constituents that there is “no short-term solution to anything,” arguing that term limits must be installed properly to achieve the desired results. Finding principled candidates is challenging, he said, and “the new blood has to be the right blood."
“Better government also requires additional election reforms that make it easier to register, vote, get on the ballot and finance runs for office, so let’s enact them,” Shaw said.
He believes an electronic platform is essential to the process of redistricting and advocating a remap plan that aligns with the state constitution.
The BGA has previously expressed deep disappointment with the state Supreme Court’s rejection of the Independent Map amendment.
“Those are the ingredients of a fairer election system that, along with more transparency, accountability and tougher ethics laws, can eventually give us the healthy democracy we’re entitled to, so let’s keep fighting for it,” Shaw said.