Saturday, November 26, 2005

More on Term Limits

by Kyle Michaelis
All declared and potential candidates for the Nebraska Unicameral take heed: Tony Ojeda, candidate for the District 30 seat currently occupied by Dennis Byars - the state senator set to challenge Nebraska's legislative term limits - provides a pretty good example of what not to say when you suddenly find yourself running for state senate against an incumbent you expected to be term limited.

From the Lincoln Journal-Star:
Nebraskans have already shown support for term limits and taking the issue up with the courts “seems like a backdoor attempt to thwart the will of the people,” said Tony Ojeda of Roca, who is campaigning for the District 30 seat.

Ojeda said he voted against term limits in 2000 but is hearing a different message than Byars while on the campaign trail: Voters like term limits because they can infuse the Legislature with new energy.

“I don’t know why somebody who has served so honorably for such a long time would waste people’s tax dollars on this issue” in a court battle, Ojeda said.

Whine, whine, whine - what a stupid and pathetic response. Seriously, no matter your opinion about term limits, Ojeda has taken the completely wrong approach here, demonstrating his own unsuitability for leadership regardless of whether Byars succeeds with his challenge.

Byars and any state senators who join him in challenging this law are exercising their rights as citizens. To suggest that is somehow dishonorable is dishonorable itself in the extreme. Ojeda should be ashamed.

These term limits are terrible public policy. Ojeda obviously knew that himself when he voted against their adoption in 2000. The people/state obviously deserve some latitude in being able to shape their government (even for the worse), but it does not extend to violating the U.S. Constitution. Hence, those who care about good government and remaining true to our principles have an obligation to take this question of constitutionality to the courts, no matter their ultimate decision.

Ojeda treats this as nothing more than a political game. Though politics is, of course, in play, it's obnoxious and repugnant to be using this complicated issue to make a personal attack. If Ojeda had an ounce of character, he would let this challenge play out in the courts as it will, taking his message to voters in true democratic fashion without worrying about whether or not he shares space on a ballot with Byars. It would be pure hypocrisy for Ojeda to put so much faith in the decision of voters in 2000 imposing term limits if he isn't going to put that same faith in them in 2006 - the faith that if he has the better message it doesn't matter who he's up against.

That's the perspective of a leader. Though Ojeda failed the test, I hope those in similar situations will learn from his mistake and campaign accordingly. Trust the voters. Let the courts do their thing. If you're really so scared of the incumbent and have so few ideas to distinguish yourself from their record, you shouldn't be running for office in the first place.


Anonymous Tammy said...

You say, "Byars and any state senators who join him in challenging this law are exercising their rights as citizens." Yes -- and Mr. Ojeda was merely exercising his when he said what he did. What he said is not "stupid and pathetic," it's what plenty of people are thinking. Calling someone else's comments whining is hardly the fact-based sort of conversation that needs to happen in order to sort out what's best.


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