“State Sen. Leland Yee withdrew from the California secretary of state race Thursday, one day after his arrest on public corruption charges,” according to SFGate.

Expanding Access To Our Democracy

Expanding Access To Our Democracy

This followed a chorus of calls from California Democrats demanding Yee’s resignation because he was ruining the brand. “California Democratic senators – wary from months of scandals – called for the immediate resignation of state Sen. Leland Yee, saying Wednesday that charges of gun trafficking and public corruption leveled against their colleague are ‘appalling’.”

“I want Leland Yee gone,” a furious Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg said of the San Francisco Democrat who is a 2014 candidate for secretary of state. Steinberg said he is immediately removing Yee from all committee assignments.

Steinberg’s reaction to the latest scandal – the third to hit the headlines this year – represented a departure from earlier calls for justice to play out after the conviction of state Sen. Rod Wright of Baldwin Park (Los Angeles County) on voter fraud charges. The Senate leader took a stronger position after the arrest of state Sen. Ron Calderon of Montebello on bribery charges this year by calling on the Los Angeles County Democrat to resign or be suspended.

Both of those legislators are on a paid leave of absence pending the legal completion of their cases.

Steinberg said Yee faces charges that “create a huge cloud over the institution.”

“Obviously, he can’t come back,” said Steinberg, who then added, “well, if he’s acquitted he can.”

The Sacramento Bee wrote that Yee “had few close ties”. “Yet Yee has been viewed as a somewhat isolated legislator during his nearly dozen years in the Assembly and Senate. A refrain Wednesday among people speaking privately was that Yee plays things close to the vest and regularly left his colleagues unsure of his true feelings.”  Which is to say now that Leland has been busted that nobody wants to acknowledge knowing him.

The demands for his resignation are understandable. The California gun control advocate is pretty unpopular just now. “State Sen. Leland Yee, an outspoken advocate of gun control and open government, was arrested Wednesday on charges that he conspired to traffic in firearms and traded favors in Sacramento for bribes – campaign cash paid by men who turned out to be undercover FBI agents.” Not only was he possibly insincere in his gun control act, he was apparently willing to deal with Russian arms dealers and Muslim rebels.

CBS News recounts some of the charges:

Yee is also accused of accepting tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions and cash payments to provide introductions, help a client get a contract and influence legislation. He or members of his campaign staff accepted at least $42,800 in cash or campaign contributions from undercover FBI agents in exchange for carrying out the agents’ specific requests, the court documents allege.

Yee discussed helping the agent get weapons worth $500,000 to $2.5 million, including shoulder-fired automatic weapons and missiles, and took him through the entire process of acquiring them from a Muslim separatist group in the Philippines to bringing them to the United States, according to the affidavit by FBI Special Agent Emmanuel V. Pascua.

He was unhappy with his life and told the agent he wanted to hide out in the Philippines, according to the affidavit.

The Philippines. Yes, quite the place to be. But not if you’re the kind of Democrat that Leland Yee presented himself as. Still Yee  may have felt a kinship for that Island Paradise “where the best is like the worst, Where there aren’t no Ten Commandments an’ a man can raise a thirst.”  A place where there are strict gun laws and where schoolchildren in Basilan come to class with M-16s.

Chicago is probably working to become like that. A few more decades under gun control advocates and it may get there. But why was Yee trying to become California Secretary of State, a position which supervises elections and voter rolls?  Because people go where they can thrive. Willy Sutton, the robber, explained why he was drawn to banks.

Why did I rob banks? Because I enjoyed it. I loved it. I was more alive when I was inside a bank, robbing it, than at any other time in my life. I enjoyed everything about it so much that one or two weeks later I’d be out looking for the next job. But to me the money was the chips, that’s all. Go where the money is…and go there often.

Which raises the question of why — since voter fraud is said to be nonexistent — Leland Lee should aspire to being California Secretary of State – as were several other Democrats. ”Yee [was] running for Secretary of State, one of a half-dozen Democrats competing in the race. During a candidates’ forum in Southern California earlier this month, Yee talked about the challenges of succeeding as an immigrant and focused on voter legislation he’s gotten passed. One bill, enacted last year, makes it possible for voters to register online.”

If Yee was — as the authorities allege — a man up to no good there must have been some angle he was planning to work in that lofty position.

One commenter at SFGate remarked there were times when corruption was so rampant that he believed it was not just a case of the odd bad apple but the whole barrel of apples being infested with worms.  He might have been surprised to learn the Founders agreed with him.  James Madison wrote to the people of New York:

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.

America was founded on the notion that most politicians can only be expected to be ornery,  low-down, crooks. Nobody in those days was fool enough to believe they could be Light-workers, Messiahs and create a world without guns. Thus in the Founder’s view the only way to guard against rogues was to ensure that government remained as small as possible relative to its essential jobs; to change those in office frequently and often, like we change underwear.

The Founders saw roguery as the byproduct of high office.  And so they wrote a constitution — you know, the document more than a hundred years old that nobody smart reads any more — to keep the weeds down. For they knew better than our modern enlighteneds that any politician sufficiently powerful to disarm the people is sufficiently powerful to sell missiles bought from Russia to Muslim rebels in Mindanao.

Unless one remembers this there is no defense against crooks in high places. The Yee scandal highlights the single most important problem in contemporary American politics: the absence of an anti-central government insurgency within the Democratic Party.  The Democrats and Republicans are now two factions of one party: the Party of the Establishment.

Only the Tea Party, and groups loosely occupying the same political space, are actively fighting for smaller government. They represent a faction which threatens to divide the GOP and may  deny nominal Republicans the success which the Democratic Party has so far achieved.  Like them or hate them, they are an authentic rebellion which is why the Washington establishment despises them so.

But for some reason the Democratic Party has no equivalent. The base will never vote against the collectivists.  In the end better a Yee or a “D” than Tea. Success has been bought at the price of betraying one the founding tenets of America, limited government. Democrats of all persuasions are agreed that more government is better; that the individual is the enemy; that the collective is the wave of the future. This lockstep guarantees the permanent majority. If so then such a party — whether you call it Democrat or Republican — has traded off that guaranteed majority for the expense of an unlimited number of Leland Yees.

Perhaps the choice is not between Democrat and Republican in the long run — but between individual liberty or subordination to rank hypocrisy. If history is any guide many, perhaps even the majority, will choose welfare over freedom. Give me bread and call me stupid, but only give me bread. Lord Bevin boasted upon creating the welfare state “I stuffed their mouths with gold.”  People today are not so demanding.  They’ll be happy with chump change.

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