Patrick Egan argues that the City Council was right to extend term limits for themselves and the mayor. I agree with him—that term limits are a bad idea. I do not think the city council was right to push unilaterally a move with such an obvious conflict of interest. I do not think it would have been that hard, in American democracy, to organize a special election (that would cost money! Oh noes!) for this issue, and I hope voters would realize that arbitrarily firing public servants just as they become experienced is bad policy.
Failing that, the City Council should have passed a measure abolishing term limits, but one that would only apply to those not in office; that is, not themselves, and not Mayor Bloomberg. If Bloomberg wants to run for a third term, good for him; it seems like New York likes him. But if you want to push for an end to term limits, don’t do it right when yours is about to run its course. This is not Hugo Chàvez’s Venezuela. Remember that Rudy Guiliani tried to abolish term limits at the height of his popularity (before his present-day descent into the oddly effeminate Crazed Attack Goblin), and it didn’t work. Do what George Washington did, and what the country is forever grateful for: take a bow, thank your supporters, and exit stage right.
I will say that term limits make a little more sense for executive offices, such as mayor or the Presidency, because it’s good to have changes of pace and leadership to keep things running smoothly, and because long-serving executives tend to settle in and become complacent about their jobs. But, I’m still uncomfortable about them because a hard-and-fast term limit essentially says that Franklin Roosevelt shouldn’t have been President after 1938, which would have made him unable to carry out the rest of the New Deal or serve during World War II. And term limits for all other offices are massively stupid: they’re petty, they limit your choice as a voter, and they cause all the experience to walk out the door. Term limits are pure snake oil, and you should reject them every time some out-of-state loudmouth PAC puts them on your state ballot.
Oh, and one more thing: I may read The New York Times, but I usually don’t follow New York politics. (Fuhgettaboudit!) I’m making an exception just this once, ’cause it’s interesting.