OPINION: A call for term limits


Let’s give more folks a chance to say stupid things

Every now and then someone calls for term limits on our politicians. I only wish someone would answer the phone. It should be one term and done. A case in point — U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann.

Ever since she was elected to Congress, the second-term congresswoman has consistently put her foot in her mouth. She began her Washington career by basically mugging former President George W. Bush after his State of the Union Address — Bachmann’s insistence on hugging and kissing Bush made YouTube’s top 10.

Then last fall, Bachmann foolishly hinted that most Democrats should be investigated, sounding like a 21st century Joseph McCarthy. But even after getting nationally roasted by political talking heads, she still got reelected to a second term.

Now, Congresswoman Bachmann has once again talked with her foot-filled mouth, boldly claiming that she doesn’t want to fill out next year’s U.S. Census because she fears that it will be used to help out such organizations as ACORN, a national housing advocacy group.

Keep in mind that populations of color — Blacks, Asians and Latinos — all were undercounted in the 2000 Census, and that another such low counting will have an adverse effect on such states as Minnesota, where there are growing numbers of persons of color, especially immigrants. Census data is used among other things to align or realign congressional districts.

Since Minnesota was undercounted, there is a very clear danger that the state could lose at least one of its current eight congressional districts. You can bet that it probably won’t be Bachmann’s, whose district lies largely in Central Minnesota, but rather the Fifth District, which happens to be represented by second-term Representative Keith Ellison. That district happens to have a large percentage of Blacks and low-income folk living there.

If the Census numbers again are undercounted, there is a real chance that two current representatives, Ellison and Betty McCollum, might have to face each other to decide who will represent the merged district.

That’s why the 2010 Census is so important. All U.S. citizens, especially Blacks and other persons of color, should fill the Census out — officials say that doing so is simple, involving a few questions such as how many members are in your household.

I know that there are many of you who are scared to give the government any sort of information. Yet many of you don’t mind sending emails, tweets or texts back and forth although such data can be easily obtained by anyone, including the feds, if they want.

However, by law Census-takers can’t reveal any data to law enforcement or immigration agencies, so your information about how many toilets are in your home or apartment is safe. It seems that Bachmann should help spread the word about the Census — after all, she is part of the U.S. government — instead of spouting off erroneous information.

This is why term limits should be revisited. Soon. Whenever someone like Bachmann says something stupid, a large hook such as that used at the Apollo Theater should emerge and yank her off the legislative floor.

If there were term limits, Bachmann would be back home instead of prowling around Congress saying idiotic things. We have entirely too many elected politicians, whether dog catchers or U.S. Representatives, who can’t be dislodged from office without a crowbar.

Look at our recent U.S. Senate race as an example, which seemed to take a hundred years to be decided. I recall hearing Norm Coleman on election night last November saying something like if he was Al Franken, he would concede the closely contested election and walk away. But later, when the tables turned and Coleman came up short, he then claimed he was fighting the results in court because he speaks for the people.

Actually, Coleman was speaking for himself — he believed the U.S. Senate seat that he held for six years was perpetually his. If there were term limits, then he would have been gone, and Minnesota would have two senators instead of one doing the job of two.

We do have term limits for president, but I’d support a single, six-year term. That would mean not having to constantly hear who is going to run in 2012, not even six months into the current president’s term.

All officeholders should serve just one term, and then yield to new blood — someone new to put their foot in their mouth.

Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to challman@spokesman-recorder.com, or read his blog: www.challman.wordpress.com.

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