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Third Term for Bloomberg

Looks like Michael Bloomberg is going to try to get the rule changed to allow him to run for a third term as mayor of New York City. I think Bloomberg’s been a good mayor, but I’m not very familiar with the alternatives so I wouldn’t want to express a view on the underlying merits of re-electing him even if that were the sort of thing that’s allowed on this blog.

But in a broader sense, term limits have never struck me as a policy with an especially strong theoretical or empirical justification. Term limits are more interesting insofar as there’s no duller story in politics than “popular incumbent cruises to re-election” but why shouldn’t popular incumbents cruise to re-election? Term limits for the state legislature haven’t improved governance in California, and I think the country would have been better served in both 2008 and 2000 by a more clear-cut choice about whether or not to continue on the current direction.

UPDATE: As Atrios points out the right way to do this would be to eliminate term limits for your successors rather than for yourself. At a minimum, I’d say it would be strongly preferable to be on record as against term limits before you ever took office.

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