Bruce Rauner is a naive politician
Now that gazillionaire Bruce Rauner has bought the Republican nomination for governor of Illinois, he would do well to drop some of the rhetoric he employed in his primary campaign.
Two items in particular should never be mentioned again. One is a naive falsehood, and the other’s just a bad idea.
First is Rauner’s ridiculous claim that he’s “not a politician.”
Any candidate for elected office who says he’s not a politician doesn’t know what he’s talking about or is falsely trying to ingratiate himself with the fools who think the world of politics would be better off without politicians.
The very act of proverbially throwing your hat in the ring makes you a politician, and rhetoric to the contrary doesn’t change that fact. The governorship of Illinois is a political post, and only politicians need apply.
This nation’s Founding Fathers were politicians. Some of them were even “career politicians,” which is another ridiculous pejorative these days — as if a career in politics is ipso facto a dishonorable undertaking. Thomas Jefferson was a career politician. Over a period of more than 35 years, he held more public offices than most any current politician you could name.
Abraham Lincoln was another career politician. He lost most of the elections in which he ran, but he served in the Illinois Legislature and the U.S. Congress before becoming president. And even when he wasn’t in office or running for office, Lincoln was politically active while practicing law. He didn’t become a legendary political genius by accident. He worked at it.
And then there’s Rauner’s support for term limits, which is a concomitant of his anti-politician stance. This, too, is an example of his political naivete.
As I’ve argued here on several occasions, term limits are a terrible idea. And don’t just take my word for it. Ronald Reagan, the patron saint of modern Republican conservatism (at least he was before the GOP went completely bonkers in recent years), agreed with me.
In his presidential farewell address in 1989, Reagan rightly argued that terms limits are “a preemption of the people’s right to vote for whomever they want as many times as they want.”
Granted, Reagan was talking in favor of repeal of the 22nd Amendment, which imposes term limits on presidents, but the principle he articulated applies to all elected officials. And it’s amazing that more Americans don’t recognize that simple principle:
Legislation or a constitutional amendment that imposes term limits at any level of government would merely diminish the political power of ordinary voters.
Besides, in a sense, we already have term limits. They’re called “elections.” We can invoke them to limit the terms of public officials whenever we want — or not limit the terms, if we so choose. Why would we saddle voters with an arbitrary barrier to their re-electing officials they want to re-elect? After all, unpopular incumbents never get re-elected anyway. The absence of term limits doesn’t force us to re-elect people we don’t want to re-elect.
Term limits also amount to breaking faith with the nation’s Founding Fathers. The drafting of our Constitution was born of an effort to correct the shortcomings of the Articles of Confederation. And the architects of the Constitution specifically omitted term limits, despite their having been included in the Articles.
There are numerous other reasons why term limits are undesirable. They would eliminate the good politicians along with the bad. They would enhance the power of bureaucrats, staffers and lobbyists. They would result in a costly loss of knowledge and experience in government.
Now, if Bruce Rauner wants to run around Illinois telling voters that he thinks their right to re-elect popular incumbents should be repealed, and that the Founding Fathers were wrong about this matter, and that Ronald Reagan was wrong, too, he’s welcome to do so. But I’ll be around to remind people that he’s just peddling political snake oil.
I’ll also remind them he’s full of crap in claiming that he’s not a politician.