Statement by Patrick Anderson on the “transparency and term limits” proposal announced today in Michigan:
I was privileged to work with patriots like Dick Headlee and Brooks Patterson early in my career. We were able to enshrine into our Constitution the term limits protections that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson advocated, and which have been part of our US Constitution since the adoption of the XXII amendment.
Over 400,000 Michigan citizens signed petitions to put term limits on the ballot in 1992. Nearly 60% of Michigan voters in 1992 supported it at the November election. It’s in the Constitution because ordinary citizens put it there. It remains popular in Michigan and across the country, because it works.
Now we have a powerful coalition of lobbyists, labor unions, a former Speaker and a big city Mayor that want to change that. It is a transparent effort to dramatically weaken our Constitution. If this powerful coalition has really been assembled for “financial transparency,” they should ask the legislature to pass such a law today. Instead, they are using their failures to adopt laws as an excuse to increase their power.
Let me make the math transparent: this proposal would double the time a person could serve in the House of Representatives. We would re-open the door we slammed shut in 1992, and once again see committee chairs serve a decade. Speakers could once again banish upstart representatives to basement offices. Government buildings would again sprout with the name of powerful legislators.
Michigan should not return to those days, regardless of how inconvenient democracy is to powerful interests.
I will not support this proposal to undermine the Constitution, nor applaud its effort to fool the voters into thinking this is about “transparency.”
Patrick L. Anderson
Patrick Anderson is the author of the 1992 term limits amendment. He is speaking as a citizen.