Paul Jacob

Next Tuesday may or may not be super, but it will definitely be important. Not only will Super Tuesday likely offer a decisive advantage to one of the candidates vying for both parties’ presidential nomination, it may also tip the balance on a key issue, one hated by politicians as much as it is loved by citizens: term limits.

On Tuesday, in addition to the presidential primary, California voters will cast ballots for or against Proposition 93. Pollsters with California’s Field Poll explained recently, “as voter awareness of the initiative has increased, there has been a decided decline in Yes-side support and an increase in voters intending to vote No.”

Elections are supposed to be about issues and ideas. Not tricks and scams. But when it comes to term limits, politicians and special interests know that their only hope is to fool the voters.

And one must give credit where credit is due. Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez, Senate President pro Tem Don Perata and the special interests, who have funded this proposition, have outdone themselves. Prop 93 is Incumbent-Protection Scam 6.0 — the slickest, most cunning trick yet devised by career politicians and their buddies.

Prop 93 pretends to make term limits stricter, which they know voters will favor. But the measure actually doubles the length of time politicians can serve in the Assembly, from six to twelve years, and increases permitted tenure in the Senate by 50 percent, from the current eight years to twelve. So while emphasizing the slight reduction in the overall limit, from 14 years to twelve — which impacts only the very few — the politicians behind the measure hope to slip through the fact that it will allow everyone — especially current legislative leaders — to entrench themselves in office.

But don’t take my word for it. Listen to a supporter of Prop 93, Scott Wiener, chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party, who wrote recently, “The reduction in time from fourteen to twelve years should not raise alarms for progressives, given that this reduction only applies to a few fortunate legislators.”


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.