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Veterans’ benefits should not be tied to term limits

Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, has set the bar even lower for state legislators.

As chairman of the Senate Community Affairs Committee, Bennett combined a proposal to give benefits to disabled veterans with a plan to increase term limits for state legislators.

The amendment would give discounts on property taxes for veterans who signed up for service in other states, while the term limit proposal intends to increase the cap on the amount of time state senators and representatives can serve from eight years to 12 years.

If passed by state legislators, the plans would both be subject to vote by Florida residents. However, it makes little to no sense to ask simultaneous approval of two completely unrelated amendments.

In a response that was equal parts tragic, illogical and humorous, Sen. Gary Siplin, D-Orlando, told the Orlando Sentinel, veterans also “have the right to run for office and not be termed out.”

This may come as no surprise considering Siplin was previously convicted of a felony charge — and while not being legally allowed to vote for himself in the general election, he had no trouble voting on legislation in the Senate.

Term limits have been a key component of governments concerned with genuinely
representing the public. They date as far back as ancient Greece, when Athenians and Spartans renewed their councils annually.

Though George Washington was popular at the end of his eight years, he humbly declined to serve a third term, setting a standard that would be respected up until Franklin D. Roosevelt’s four-term presidency. Washington recognized the importance of new leadership and service after having fought furiously against what he believed was uncompromising tyranny.

Allowing longer term limits not only creates a system prone to the same kind of self-serving tyranny Washington and ancient Grecian governments disapproved of, but hinders the prospect of new perspectives.

As a former serviceman, Bennett should be ashamed of himself for combining a well-intentioned veterans’ benefits proposal with his own poisonous plan to increase term limits.

In his defense, Bennett has said, “There may be a lot of things I might be guilty of — disrespectful of veterans ain’t one” according to the Tampa Tribune.

If Bennett’s actions ain’t disrespectful to veterans, they’re certainly in contempt of some of the basic values of any representative form of government.