Aside from the fact that the governator suddenly looks old and fragile, there is little encouraging about California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s latest political maneuvering. His call for a special election might be admirable if he or his sponsors were paying for it. After all, it is more about a man’s ego and ambition than any concept of good governance.
The worst thing about the governor’s abuse of the initiative process is that it will likely damage the process itself. Initiatives and referendums are the application of direct democracy and those of us who truly believe in democracy are wary when politicians attack the process when it does not serve their purposes. Certainly, there should be reform to remove big money and restore the grassroots to the process. No one should be paid to collect signatures and contributions should be limited to individuals at fixed limits but that is not the issue now. The real question is: Since we are going ahead with this lame brained special election, why is the governor not on the ballot?
It is not difficult to understand the governor’s motives. Arnold loves the lights. A Democratic legislature has brazenly chosen to stand in his way rather than to demure and assist him in building a national campaign. If a constitutional amendment is not in the cards, Schwarzenegger’s persona ought to be good for a cabinet post or a high profile ambassadorship. Certainly, he would be a suitable Emperor for the next occupation.
I understand the governor’s distaste for teachers and nurses. They tend to read, listen to the news, analyze policies and events, and communicate their ideas to family and friends. They know a fraud when they see one and Arnold’s compassionate conservative act is growing old. He wants to get rid of tenure so unruly teachers can be fired, neglecting the critical shortage facing both the state and the nation for years to come. He wants to deny the nurse-to-patient ratio demanded by the people in a previous initiative. If he succeeds, health professionals will find greener pastures elsewhere but the governator will be able to hire more energy and political consultants.
I understand the need for redistricting reform but it is not a pressing matter for a state in fiscal crisis and it is nothing more than self-serving in the hands of this governor.
What I do not understand is why Recall Arnold has not already qualified for this ballot. Where is the party of opposition? Asleep at the wheel? Gone fishing? Striking a pose for the cameras? There is only one effective restraint to the abuse of the initiative process that began with the recall of Gray Davis: Recall Arnold. What comes around goes around and all that jazz. Unfortunately, we are saddled with a gutless and self-serving brand of politician on both sides of the proverbial aisle.
It is thick with irony that this special election ballot will offer a proposition to “re-regulate the power industry.” How special indeed. It has been five years since the fleecing of California to the tune of fifty billion dollars by a handful of Texas energy companies. Made possible by a Republican drive for deregulation that is still in process, with the corrupt cooperation of corporate Democrats, it is in fact the reason for our current crisis. There is something truly rotten in the bowels of the state legislature. What have they been waiting for? Another episode of massive fraud and redistribution of wealth, California to Texas, with the blessings of both parties? The last chapter ended with the crucifixion of the governor. Who will take the blame for the next?
If we have learned anything at all from these sorry events, it is that neither major party offers any real solution to our long-term problems.
Both are more interested in securing their power base and lining their pockets with corporate payoffs. The obvious answer is not to disable direct democracy but to enable greater, broader and uncorrupted participation in electoral politics. Give democracy a chance: Vote for an independent or third party candidate. When enough people say no the political machinations of entrenched politicians, they will finally begin to listen.
Meantime, regulation of the energy industry is the only sure Yes on the special election ballot but there ought to be another: Shall the governor of the state of California be removed from office? Yes, Yes, a thousand times Yes!
Jack Random is the author of Ghost Dance Insurrection (Dry Bones Press) the Jazzman Chronicles, Volumes I and II. The Chronicles have been published by CounterPunch, the Albion Monitor, FirstPeoplesCentury, Trinicenter, Global Research and other notable sites. The Jazzman Chronicles are available at City Lights Bookstore in SF. Visit his website: www.jackrandom.com.
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