Issue No. 3—Arkansas Term Limits Amendment—proposed very important and detrimental changes to the Arkansas Constitution; it sought to impose the strictest term limits in the country. Good citizens of Arkansas should ask themselves, why? Issue No. 3 would have fostered corruption in our legislature by creating high turnover. Fortunately, the Supreme Court of Arkansas recently struck down Issue No. 3, and votes on the matter will not be counted in the upcoming November election.
The Downside of Shorter Term Limits
Although Issue No. 3 will not be on the ballot this election, this is not the first-time voters have been faced with voting for or against shorter term limits. Big corporations are constantly pushing for shorter term limits, so they can pay less for those inexperienced and easily corrupted individuals to be voted into our legislature. Frustrated citizens and taxpayers often take the default positions of “drain the swamp” or “kick them all out of office” whenever they grow tired of the politics or the conditions created by the politics. It would only seem natural, then, to believe that shorter terms for politicians would lead to better governing by better elected officials, right? Wrong.
While it may seem counter-intuitive, shorter term limits will only lead to an increase in corruption, inexperienced legislators, highly influential lobbyists peddling their corporate client’s self-interests, and a lack of institutional knowledge generally held by seasoned legislators. By shortening the term limits, we arbitrarily remove experienced and knowledgeable legislators who are adequately serving their constituents and replace them with inexperienced individuals who can be easily persuaded, influenced, and as several recent cases reveal, illegally corrupted by lobbyists and the corporate interests that they service. Shorter term limits create high turnover in the legislature. In turn, high turnover creates instability and a lack of continuity that is a hallmark of good governance. A business that has high turnover suffers from inexperienced staff and lack of consistent customer service. An athletic team with a revolving door of players never bonds as a team and fails to work together for the greater good. The same can be said for a legislature with high turnover. The result is inexperienced lawmakers with no incentive to be responsive to their constituents and no opportunity to create relationships of trust and cooperation with other lawmakers so that they can work together to solve the bigger problems facing all Arkansans. A legislator’s experience and trust built up over a career of public service should be highly-sought and highly-valued traits among voters going to the polls.
Shorter term limitations eliminate our right to vote for the best candidate for the job. It superficially limits who can run for office based on length of service instead of on ability and support among voters. By supporting shorter term limits, you are agreeing that individual citizens of Arkansas are not intelligent enough to vote for the best candidate and need the government’s guidance (term limits) to limit who you can or cannot vote for.
Shorter term limits will have the largest impact on rural areas where there are fewer individuals running for public office. Large corporations and special interests can manufacture individuals to run in those areas. Proof is already present among those that supported Issue No. 3. Out-of-state corporations were pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into our state to impose the strictest term limits in the country to support a national agenda. Arkansas already has a 16-year term limit that recently passed in 2014. Any benefit in term limits has been surpassed at this point. No good will come from shortening term limits to this extreme. It will only have a negative effect by disqualifying those candidates that are best fit for the job.
Issue No. 3 Struck Down By The Supreme Court Of Arkansas
On September 5, 2018, a lawsuit was filed regarding the validity of Issue No. 3 and requesting that it be removed from the November ballot. The plaintiff argued there were defects in the Popular Name & Ballot Title, as well as insufficient signatures for the proposed amendment. On October 19, 2018, the Supreme Court of Arkansas struck down Issue No. 3 due to errors on petition pages containing voter signatures. Accordingly, there were not enough valid voter signatures to place Issue No. 3 on the ballot.
While recent developments, indictments, and prison sentences clearly illustrate that Arkansas has its own “swamp” that needs to be drained at the State Capitol, shorter term limits are not the answer to the problem. Constant, arbitrary, high turnover of legislators in our State government will only make the problem worse. Arkansans should continue to have the power to vote in and vote out legislators according to their record and who is best fit for the job; not because of an arbitrary limit.
This is a paid post by Reddick Moss.