Poor Willie Brown. Ever since California slapped term limits on state lawmakers, Brown’s lacked a permanent perch in power.
For many, Brown’s 15-year reign as speaker serves as Exhibit A in the case against unlimited terms. Brown himself bragged that he had been the “Ayatollah” of the assembly — though later he seemed to repent of his support for untrammeled spending in that role.
He next lathered patronage as mayor of San Francisco. But this was another term-limited post, so he couldn’t barnacle himself there either.
It still bothers Brown how voters limited tenures. He’s always opposed term limits. And now the papers quote him telling a Republican political club that term limits are a “disaster. . . . We’ve allowed ourselves to become addicted to elections.” (You guessed it: He disdains citizen initiative rights too.)
Elections, an addiction? Like heroin? Of course, we’re “addicted” to everything these days. Obama says we’re “addicted” to oil (as did Bush). We’d all admit a compulsion to consume food and oxygen.
To learn what weaning ourselves off term limits might be like, check Ballotpedia, which reports that even in this roiling political year, only 19 incumbent state senators out of 1,167 running for re-election lost their primaries. Less than 40 percent — the exact number is 459 — even faced an opponent. In general elections, incumbent re-election rates typically exceed 90 percent, even in tough political times.
That’s fine with politicians like Brown, who always crave another fix — of political power.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.