Term Limits as Humanitarianism

I don’t think term limits reduce government corruption or largesse. I don’t think they stop bad legislation or promote good. I’ve seen them in action, and they do alter the interests, but things quickly adjust and the average Joe and his freedom are no safer. Ultimately, no rule changes or tweaks can stop government oppression. The only real solution is for markets, not states, to provide social solutions.

Yet I’m a big fan of term limits nonetheless.

As much as I hate to admit it, politicians are people too. As a fellow human, I do not wish ill upon them. Probably the worst thing that can happen to a person is the loss of their soul; their dignity; there very humanity. This is worse than death or injury, and it is precisely what the political system does to politicians.

No matter how well intentioned, they face rigged choices every day that force them to be a backstabbing jerk to all their peers, or fudge a little on their principles. No one can resist this forever. To cope, they create elaborate justificatory narratives, and separate their political actions from their sense of morality or self. Even when you’ve seen the evil of Mordor, it’s hard to throw the ring in the fire.

The first few years in office, newly minted politicians are mostly being used, or patted on the head like kids at their first ball game. After three or four, they start to learn how to get stuff. Five or six and they’re almost gone for good – barely recognizable as the people they once were. Always “on”, and not even knowing what real people behave like. At this stage, a few years out of the system and they may still regain most of their former humanity. The detox is tough, but possible. Six or more years and all hope is lost.

Term limits save souls.