by Seth Sandronsky
August 30 ,2003
There is no shortage of some news and opinion on the California recall election. Take media and Arnold Schwarzenegger, the GOP candidate seeking to unseat California Gov. Gray Davis on Oct. 7.
The former body builder and current action film star has voiced positions on many social issues. He recently chose talk radio to speak about gun control, legal abortion and medical marijuana.
Yet Arnold said nothing about state Proposition 54, the Racial Privacy Initiative. Ward Connerly is the author of the RPI, a measure to eliminate the state government’s collection of racial and ethnic data that will be on the recall ballot.
Supposedly, Prop. 54 will eliminate discrimination in California. How?
When the state government stops gathering racial and ethnic data in areas such as heath care and law enforcement. This is Connerly’s “new” race theory.
In his view, government intervention makes life tougher for racial and ethnic minorities. The best thing that government can do here is to step aside.
Hands off. Let the free market that conservatives such as Arnold and Ward love so dearly decide who sinks and swims.
Arnold’s silence on Connerly’s measure is telling. One might expect corporate media outlets to jump all over the entertainer candidate’s non-response to Prop. 54.
After all, race is a social issue. And Arnold claims to be the gubernatorial candidate for all people in the state, from small merchants and workers, students to seniors.
If there really was anything resembling freedom in the press, editors and reporters would hold Arnold’s feet to the fire on Prop. 54. So what are corporate media busy covering on Arnold’s campaign trail?
Recent examples include who he and his fellow physique competitors did or did not have sex with, when and where. You know, the sexy stuff.
Connerly lacks his fellow Republican’s name identification. And his personal wealth.
For reasons of fame and fortune, we are not treated by media to the Prop. 54 backer’s sexual history. Thank goodness for that.
Meanwhile, outside the echo chamber that marks coverage of the recall and the RPI, California is home to many millions of minority people. Thus the politics of Arnold and Ward are key to the racialized status quo in the state.
Together, Arnold and Connerly represent forces poised to continue and deepen the marginalization of the state’s racial minorities into barrios, ghettos, jails and prisons. The 2003 recall suggests that the backlash of racial politics is alive and well.
Arnold’s campaign for governor is a part of—not apart from—that of Connerly’s Prop. 54 to divide and conquer Californians along the color line. Those who can see this reactionary trend underway should help those who are sight-challenged.
The seeds of such a mass movement for racial equality are out there. There is no doubt about it in my mind.
Think of the many Californians involved in the anti-war mobilizations before the U.S. invaded Iraq. Potentially, these ordinary folks are allies in a movement for racial justice.
Nature and politics dislike a vacuum. The campaigns of Arnold and Connerly have bloomed in the absence of a visible and vocal movement for justice without war overseas and at home.
It is time to reach out to teach others about the Prop. 54 hoax.
Progressive Californians, you know who you are.
Seth Sandronsky is a member of Peace Action and co-editor with Because People Matter, Sacramento’s progressive paper. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.