Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Opinion Editorials, August, 2016
Some Thoughts About Term Limits in Public Office
By Mazin Qumsiyeh
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, August 22, 2016
Can we have an honest objective discussion of term limits in public life? It has become common practice to hear people speak about those in office who are wed to their chair and refuse to let others take over what they consider to be their position. Whether it is those who have a renewal of their position like members of the US congress and the senate who became career politicians by running for elections (no term limits) or those who are set in a position like a king or perpetual president by virtue of other arrangements. We find people like Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas basically enjoy their acquired positions and age and even die in office. We joke that we never have a living ex-president in the Arab world.
But sometimes it is easy to pick on politicians when people have much closer examples. Thousands of non-governmental organizations run by the same person sometimes for decades. Many academic leadership positions in our universities seem to have unchanging faces. There are some who will argue that experience trumps new blood. Might it not be good to have the >25 year experience of Saeb Erekat (“Chief Negotiator” and author of “Life is Negotiations”)?
Further, when you do have term-limits, you may still get the same outcome
via other ways. Case in point Bush Jr coming to office of US President after
Bush senior or the impending return to the white house of the Clintons. And
in systems like the Israeli apartheid system or the American “democracy”
does it really matter to common people’s lives whether it is a leader of one
or the other party that takes office? Aren’t there well known “rulers” (the
military-industrial-financial elite circle) that run the show any way? Or
should we take the revolutionary line and vote for a third party candidate
to stir the pot?
Alas we have much work to do as we challenge not just the occupation but
a system f compliant leadership in towns that have historically been known
to be models of resistance. But the question remain that if you get rid of
the entrenched forces who have been comfortably in office for years, do you
really have good smart, young leadership to take over? And what about youth
and women voices? Can we afford the change or can we afford not to
change? Considering that Palestine remains under occupation and the
situation gets worse every day (more sellers, more home demolitions etc),
what do we have to lose from trying new things? Isn’t this also true at the
global level? Revolution anyone?
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