John Scalzi has a long and fun screed up about the recall, and I would recommend you take a look at it. I am not going to join him in beating up the California voters (four years of Davis and then a choice between Simon and Davis- haven’t they suffered enough?), but I do think he is right about some points, not surprisingly, the points I have mentioned previously that I found objectionable about the recall process:
Yes, Gray Davis was unpopular. That’s what you get when you don’t vote, people. You want your leaders to reflect your interests, haul your whiny asses to the polls on a regular basis.
The very worst thing about this recall election is that it solidifies the concept of the permanent political campaign, with the focus on running for a position rather than the running of the government. Every vote for the recall was a vote for office-holders needing even more money to run their political organizations, money which will inevitably come from special interests and corporations, making the political process even more opaque to the needs of citizens than it already is. Every vote for the recall is a vote that signals that politicians can’t vote their consciences, on the rare occasion they have one, for fear of some excitable group deciding that it just can’t wait for the normal election cycle to boot their asses out. Every vote for the recall is a vote for short-attention-span government, one that inevitably trends towards the “bread-and-circuses” aspect of the political discourse, rather than the aspect that deals with long-term issues in a serious way.
So, to wrap things up: If you voted for the recall, you might have thought you were voting to boot Gray Davis out of office. But that’s because you’re a moron, easily distracted by sparkly lights and shiny objects. You were really voting to let small, inherently undemocratic groups run your state all the time, forever. The fact that you thought you were doing the former when in fact you were doing the latter suggests that you would have been more helpful in the governance of your state by hurling yourself off the Golden Gate Bridge and smacking into the bay below with a nice, bone-powdering swack. In addition to clearing out four million bottom-feeders from an already-overpopulated state, California might still have a government still nominally beholden to voters, instead of through special-interest control by mob rule proxy. Good job.
While I disagree that this was undemocratic (it followed all the procedures set up within the California Constitution), the CA recall as written is a deeply flawed piece of work. A quick note to Californians- change this. However, he is absolutely right about this instituting the so-called permanent campaign. I am fearful that this will be the beginning of six month administrations (although it should be noted only four states have a form of recall), but it is most certainly going to poison the climate. With jackasses like McAuliffe and Mulholland running around, you can be sure of it:
California Democrat Party state spokesman Bob Mulholland said his party is giving Arnold Schwarzenegger just 100 days before a new recall effort may be launched.
Mulholland made his threat on Fox News Tuesday night after polls closed and major press outlets declared Arnold Schwarzenegger the winner.
On Tuesday, Gray Davis declined to refute reports that he may back a new recall effort against Schwarzenegger.
Already press reports indicate that Democrats have $3 million prepared for a new recall effort.
Also, Hollywood billionaire Stephen Bing has promised to finance any Democratic-backed recall effort.
Yippee! We get to do this all over again. Fortunately, the Democrats will need to give him more than 100 days, as the law gives him a six month grace period- but you get the point. In his screed, Scalzi blames the usual suspects for this recall:
Californians, boy, did you ever get played, you dumb-ass losers. This was, at its root, one of the most flagrantly un-democratic (small “d”) elections in the history of the United States, and you followed the script as if you were giggling, squealing paid extras. The recall was bought and paid for by one guy and orchestrated by a few zealots with an extremely narrow agenda, and both these parties were more than happy to push your emotional buttons to get you to do what they wanted you to do, which was boot the current and conventionally-elected office-holder for a chance to install someone more amenable to their own interests. Florida 2000 paranoids aside, this is the closest thing to a coup we’ve had in the country, and you swallowed it like it was a tasty treat. It’s sickening, really.
Scalzi is partially right, in a sense- it is the GOP to blame. But not the ‘cabal’ of ‘conspirators’ the tin-foil hat crowd likes to throw around. The people who are really to blame are all the people are a group of influential California GOP party men, led by George Deukmejian, who killed Dick Riordan’s primary race by denouncing the man, stating they had no respect for the man, and essentially writing Gray Davis’s commercials. It was clear to anyone with a brain that someone like Bill Simon would NEVER be elected, yet the CA GOP marched along in lockstop, choosing the right to marginalized ideological purity over the right to govern. Hell, Richard Bennet had an ongoing theme about this titled the Republican Death March.
Fortunately for the state of California, do-overs are allowed, some in the GOP grew up enough to realize that a pro-choice moderate Republican was better than Gray Davis, as did the rest of the electorate. Simon dropped out early, McClintock ran a respectable, principled, and decent campaign, and Arnold was able to carry the day.
This is the main reason that I think all of the triumphalism about California being in play for 2004 is rather absurd. There was no tectonic shift in the political stances of the majority of Californians. This was an anti-Davis vote, and Arnold is a moderate, palatable candidate. Let’s be clear about one thing- this was not, as some might say, an anti-incumbent vote. This was an anti-Davis vote. Has everyone forgotten what Davis’s friends thought about him?
Gray is a friend of mine, but Gray has really given a bad name to being moderate, because Gray really isn’t a moderate. Gray is kind of a, you know, this kind of guy who polls for the answer. … There’s not much that Gray stands for — and I like Gray personally — but Gray doesn’t stand for anything. That’s his problem politically right now. You know, Gray stands for Gray. And so, as something moves forward, his calculus is not ‘What do I feel in my gut or my heart?’ His calculus is ‘What sounds good? What polls good? I don’t wanna make a mistake that could cost me politically.’ But when you do that, you get just what he got. I mean, which is, in his effort to be risk-averse, you end up with the biggest risk, where ultimately nobody feels shit about you. I mean even the articles that try to say we don’t like the recall, none of them have good things to say about Gray. …
Had Rirodan run the first time around this recall would never have happened. But does this put California in play for Bush? Let’s not be silly. Oliver seems to think the reason the GOP will not win in 2006 is because there will be no other celebrity to run. He is wrong. If the GOP loses in 2006, it is because either Arnold was a failure or because they will nominate another candidate like Simon, a person that mad even the most outspoken Davis critics cringe.
Maybe the GOP will learn. I doubt it. Arnold really does represent the new breed of Republicans (at least he claims to hold positions like most of the Republicans I know- think libertarian lite), but the California primary voters continue to select candidates who we be immensely popular Governors- in Alabama.