Paul Jacob

In addition to these lopsided victories, a recent poll in California shows that a whopping 75 percent of voters there support their term limits law. In 2002, Californians had rejected a measure to weaken their law, Proposition 45. Though term limits supporters were outspent $11 million to $1 million, Prop 45 was resoundingly defeated 58 to 42 percent.

That Michigan legislative leaders are now threatening the state's term limits during the lame-duck session just begun is, well, lame. One of the lead conspirators behind the effort, Rep. John Stewart (R-Plymouth), says, "I picture myself as the state Rep from the 20th district for the next eight years. At 55 years old, I don't want to go back to divorces, drunk drivers and auto negligence."

The desperate legislators have even begun talking about giving back some of the pay raise they grabbed a couple years ago. Ah, bribery! Or as Rep. Stewart puts it, they'd be willing to "sweeten the pot." Sure to make folks think they deserve that extra pay, eh? Or extra term?

On November 2nd, voters furthered not only term limits, but integrity. They sent three gentlemen to the U.S. Senate who had previously made and kept pledges to step down after serving three terms in the U.S. House. Tom Coburn was elected to the U.S. Senate from Oklahoma, Jim DeMint from South Carolina, and John Thune from South Dakota.

Thune defeated the Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, who repeatedly told his constituents that they would be voting to leave the front of the line for congressional pork if they didn't re-elect him. South Dakota voters, like voters across this country when given the choice, opted for integrity over pork and sent Daschle to . . . another line.

Voters also ended the poisoned political career of George Nethercutt. Nethercutt defeated Speaker of the House Tom Foley in 1994 on a pledge to limit his own terms in Congress to three. But then, unable to muster the character to resist the power and privilege of Washington, he broke his word. Nethercutt's campaign for the Senate faced two hurdles: an incumbent Senator and a woeful lack of excitement from voters. Funny that voters couldn't muster any enthusiasm for sending just another selfish career politician to D.C. Nethercutt lost, 55?43.

While the power of incumbency is so great that voters have little leverage to hold congressmen to pledges on term limits ? or, as I often lament in my Common Sense e-letter, anything else for that matter ? it is worth noting that those who have kept their word on term limits have gone on to become governors and senators, while not a single pledge-breaker has won higher office.

Voters like term limits and they like integrity. When will the media read that memo?

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.