The Political Werewolf
If you know me, then you know I'm a big political nut. So, I've decided to add my own personal flavor to the realm of political discussion. We'll be talking about various issues - some of them having to do with current events, others perhaps more on a philosophical level. But in any case, you're free to respond to whatever you read here, either by E-mail or on the message board.
All righty, here we go.
Getting Rid of Splinters
Well, whether you like it or not, the recall campaign to unseat Gray Davis as the governor of California is now underway. If the polls are any indication, then Gray's days as the head of my home state are numbered, and that number is somewhere in the 50s. However, if the polls are an indication of his ouster, maybe this won't be such the free ride about Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Now, I think you ought to know something about Arnold. For years, he's been touting himself as a fiscal conservative and a social liberal. (Never mind the fact that those two don't necessarily go together.) On the surface, he looks like the perfect candidate to knock off Davis. He's got oodles of charisma, something Gray Davis sorely lacks (C'mon, you think Gray is his real name?). A $38 billion budget deficit means we need a fiscal conservative in charge of finances in this state, and meanwhile liberals won't be threatened by his social policy. (And we can worry about the squishy stuff later, anyway - for now, let's just focus on the budget.)
But now that two weeks have passed, conservatives have been left scratching their heads over this guy. First of all, his primary focus is to get businesses back into the state. Sounds great, until you hear why he wants them back. Not to spur the economy or brings jobs back to California, but to use their tax revenue on his afterschool programs. Next, he hires Warren Buffet - a vocal opponent to Bush's tax cuts and someone who believes our property taxes are too low - as his chief financial advisor. It doesn't stop there - a few days ago Arnold added The West Wing actor Rob Lowe to his stable of advisors. Rob freaking Lowe.
When Arnold jumped into the race (after everyone had said he wasn't going to), I was surprised. After seeing his passion for politics and his desire to see Gray gone, I was starting to side with him. Now that the zebra has shown his spots, though, he's lost my vote. And according to a recent Field Poll, mine isn't the only one he's lost - he's gone from dominating the field to trailing behind Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante.
So now what? Obviously, the voting public has soured on Arnold a bit. He might be able to recapture some of this voting pool, but at this point it's safe to say the celebrity allure for him has died out. That being the case, I think we have another pressing issue in this recall - the glut of conservative Republicans in the race.
Currently, there are three conservatives in the running for the governorship: Tom McClintock, Bill Simon, and Peter Ueberoff. Personally, I'm going with McClintock. Simon ran in last November's election and lost, and even though one of the reasons this recall was started was because of the falsehoods perpetrated in order to get Gray re-elected, I feel we need to give someone else a chance. Aside from being the organizer of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, Ueberoff is a virtual unknown in this state, and his decision to enter the race is a bit concerning. Moreover, McClintock has, I believe, the best plans thus far of any candidate. His platform includes voiding the illegal tripling of the DMV fees; voiding the egregious contracts with the energy companies (which were negotiated by someone with a conflict of interest for the power companies); reforming the Worker's Comp system (which has been one of the primary reasons businesses have been driven out); and eliminating obsolete and duplicate state agencies.
Only thing is, according to that Field Poll, Cruz Bustamante is leading with 25% of the vote. Arnold Schwarzenegger has 22%. McClintock leads the conservatives with 9%, Simon has 8%, and Ueberoff has 4%. (They didn't bother to list Gary Coleman.) Add them up, and the conservative candidates have 21% - putting them in a dead heat with Arnold. If conservative Republicans want to have any chance of getting one of their own elected into the governor's office - and hence any chance of resuscitating this state - we need to make a decision. These three candidates need to sit at a table, hammer out their differences, and figure out which one of them is going to make the run for the team. Draw a name out of a hat, play Rock-Scissors-Paper, whatever - because if the conservative vote remains splintered, all three candidates (and the state) are doomed.
Despite this potential crisis regarding the dilution of the vote, I still think this recall is a good idea. Not just in this case; I think the recall is one of the last weapons the public has against an incompetent and elitist politician. They'll be a bit more willing to pay attention to what their constituents want and not be pandering to every special interest group that waves a checkbook in front of their eyes. If they feel like they're invincible, then they won't give a damn. Yes, there is a possibility that a candidate will get in there with less than a majority, and there's also the possibility that too many cooks can spoil the broth, as mentioned above. But the fact that this mechanism is there, that the people have a last-ditch process to get someone extremely inept out of office before damaging the state further - that's what a democracy is about. It's not about finding someone that more than half the state can agree on - it's about getting rid of the guy that half the state agrees should be removed.
The next month and a half will be very interesting in the state of California. Hopefully after all this is over, we'll land on our feet.
Previous columns:7/14/03: Where's the Utopia?
6/30/03: Minority Reports
6/9/03: With a Capital D and that Rhymes With D and that Stands for Democrats
5/26/03: Where's the Harm?
5/12/03: The Ten Questions a Liberal Will Never Answer
5/5/03: Let The Fun Begin
4/21/03: It's My Money, Not TheIRS
4/14/03: Bush Won - Get Over It
4/7/03: Conservative Business 101
3/31/03: I'm a Celebrity - No War in Iraq!
3/24/03: Patriotism vs. Nationalism