I spent a lot of time yesterday perusing various peoples reactions to the California election. Most of them were remarkably similar:
“Oh my god, I can’t believe they elected Arnold” followed by one of a series of predictable Schwarzenegger jokes. The truth of the matter is that Arnold is entirely beside the point.
Yes, the California recall election is a travesty, but not because an action-movie star won. We’ve put actors in office before. Ben Jones, the guy who played good-ole-boy mechanic “Cooter” on The Dukes of Hazzard was a Congressman. So was Sonny Bono. We sent Ronald Reagan to the White House for goodness sake. The union has survived all this and more.
The recall was a travesty precisely because it allowed a moneyed minority of discontent demagogues to hijack the electoral process. Gray Davis was an unpopular governor, to be sure. And a lot of bad stuff happened on his watch, many of which he could probably be held directly accountable for. Having said that, we already have a process for getting someone you don’t like out of office — they’re called elections, and they happen on a regular schedule. As unpopular as Davis was, I don’t think you can reasonably claim that he was either criminal or incompetent. And being unpopular shouldn’t be enough to hound someone out of office.
As for Arnie, hey, he might even do well. As Republicans go, he’s surprisingly palatable to my moderately liberal palate. He’s proffered himself to be pro-choice, pro-education, and (reasonably) pro-environment. He has to work with an overwhelming Democratic majority in the legislature. And while he won’t win any diction awards, he’s not an idiot.
I actually imagine that, while they claim to be pleased, the Republican masterminds behind the recall are secretly furious that they couldn’t get one of their frothing wingnut pinheads into the Governor’s Mansion — there was probably only one good shot in that canon, and with it they got — Arnold. A moderate movie star who is married to a Kennedy. I think I’m almost amused.
But I’m not amused at the lengths the pinheads will go to to undermine the legitimate democratic process. Maybe it’s because, unlike the neo-cons, I actually take that whole Constitution thing seriously. I hope there are enough people like me to put an end to this nonsense soon, or we can chalk up the whole Great Experiment as a failure and move on.