This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The inauguration of President Donald Trump is barely over, but the 2018 election cycle has already begun. In 2012, at age 77, Sen. Orrin Hatch gave his word that his seventh term in office would be his last. It is now crystal clear that he does not intend to keep that promise. It is abundantly evident that Hatch is running for his eighth six-year term. If there was any doubt, just look at the op-eds his team has lined up proclaiming the need for him to break his word and run again "for the good of Utah."
He hasn't been the only politician to be asked to go back on his word and run again. George Washington was asked to hold tightly to power, but instead, he gave it up not once but twice. The first was at the end of the Revolutionary War when he resigned his military commission (and declined to become king) and then again at the end of his second term as president, when he refused multiple earnest entreaties to stay for a third term. Today it seems going back on a campaign promise is just par for the course.
Let's be honest. No one is indispensable. At some point, there will be a change in officeholder and when that happens, I predict the transition will be fairly smooth and Utah and its citizens will continue to be represented well and perhaps even better than they are now. New eyes on old problems often leads to better ideas and more innovative solutions.
We are also blessed in this state that there is not just one influential person, but many. Attorney General Sean Reyes could be tapped to be chairman of the Federal Trade Commission. Rep. Chris Stewart is top of the list to become secretary of the Air Force. Reps. Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz are chairmen of powerful committees, while Rep. Mia Love was immediately put on A-list committees as a freshman. Gov. Gary Herbert is leading the best managed state in the nation, and I would argue Lt. Governor Spencer Cox is the best lieutenant governor in the country. Sen. Curt Bramble is the president of the National Conference of State Legislatures, and Speaker Greg Hughes and Senate President Wayne Niederhauser are nationally known and respected. Sen. Deidre Henderson and Rep. Sophia DiCaro are leaders in Utah and excellent choices for federal office. There are many others as well, and I haven't even touched on the large number of influential business and community leaders that call Utah home.
As a new political activist 16 years ago, I used to buy the argument that we already have term limits: They're called elections. I don't buy it anymore. One, it ignores the massive power of incumbency. When the congressional approval rating is about the same as a cockroach, 9 percent or so, yet incumbent re-election rates hover around 95 percent, you know there's a disconnect somewhere. Second, power changes you. When a politician is willing to vote for term limits, they probably don't need them. When they need them, they won't vote for them.
Utah's junior senator, Mike Lee, reiterated his support for term limits in November, saying: "Whenever you see a member of Congress come back and tell his or her constituents, 'Look, I know we're all citizens in a free republic, and that means you can vote for whomever you want, but given the amount of seniority and authority that I've accrued during my time in this or that body of Congress, you should know that if you don't vote for me you will lose money and power and influence,' it's attaching a very high price tag to our most fundamental of rights, our right to vote."
In 1976, a young Orrin Hatch asked repeatedly: "What do you call a senator who has been in Washington for 18 years? You call him home." After 42 years, it's time Utah released Hatch with a vote of thanks and called him home.
Holly Richardson, aka Holly on the Hill, is a troublemaker, mouthy woman and an assortment of other names not usually fit for publication.