Paul Jacob

Well, it’s all over but the inauguration. With the political season finished, the ephemeral divisions of society can be downplayed long enough to view the enduring conflict, the real war. It’s not Republican versus Democrat or conservative versus liberal. It’s the political class versus the citizenry.

That is, it’s us, the people, versus them, the politicians . . . and their hired functionaries.

The Democratic and Republican parties are merely two clubs that serve up confusion so that we don’t realize the nature of our true enemies — or the lack of any meaningful choice.

Now, before we get too hasty, we should all remind ourselves that politicians are almost certainly necessary. A few will even prove themselves good and virtuous. But power tempts, power corrupts, and politicians are in the power biz. Follow the logic.

This logic leads to the requirements of limited government, to prevent politicians from doing things that they would otherwise, sans limits, be inclined to do.

The Constitution was designed as a set of limits. Alas, most of its limits have fallen by the wayside. So that’s why one type of limit provides such a good marker for the beginning of the people’s campaign to take control of government: term limits.

Term limits serve to shorten the time elected citizens must endure near the sulphurous pits of power, allowing a citizen to stay “citizen legislator” and not morph into a professional politician. Term limits do not ensure this — they merely give us a better chance. Evidence suggests that, without term limits, we have little or no chance at all.

So, the last election has brought us united governments under the Democrats. We’ll see where that gets us.

Meanwhile, the last election also showed us something about the larger perspective, the war between citizens and politicians. It showed us that, in open contests, the voters beat the politicians. When voters actually get to cast their ballots directly for or against the policy of term limits, they tend to choose term limits.

In most places where term limits were being attacked, or terms extended, and where voters had the responsibility and the opportunity to make the choice, term limits won.

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.