politics is a full body contact sport 11.09.2005

Well, it appears that here in California, every single proposition that was put on the ballot for the special elections uniformly lost all the way across the board. Now there were a few on the ballot that deserved to go down (such as the ones that would have institutionalized socialized medicine), but the reform propositions 74, 75, 76 and 77 were all rejected as well--despite support from such "conservative" organizations as the Los Angeles Times, that bastion of right-wing thinking. (NOT!)

So how could the Governator fail so badly?

The answer is actually quite simple. No-one knew what each of those individual propositions would have done.

For several months now we got a constant daily diatribe in the television commercials about how each of these propositions were part of an evil Bush/Rove/Schwarzenegger campaign to take away our civil rights--including the re-animated corpse of Judge Wopner telling us to vote "No-on-77-no-on-77-no-on-77" because it would have given people like him power to draw districts instead of allowing that power to be guarded by the same foxes that also guard the hen-house.

But what did we get in response from Ahnold? "Hi, I'm a movie star, and if you like me, you'll give me the tools I need to make you happy."

And while that line may have worked on the movie set interns that he eventually played grab-ass with, it doesn't work when you are discussing a package of highly technical constitutional reform measures.

No, what would have worked was the same sort of dirty politics that the "no" people were playing. And he wouldn't have had to play it as hard as the Police Union ads which implied that Schwarzenegger was a NAZI (and reminding us that his father was). All it would have taken with 77 was pointing out that the very same people now drawing the districts are the ones who are winning elections in their districts--with a background image of fat guys smoking cigars drawing lines in the maps to keep them in power.

Proposition 75 would have been equally as easy to sell--and even without being sold, came closest to winning--through showing the same fat-cat image pulling money from starving teachers and slamming the door in their faces when they came to ask to give their input.

Now granted 74 and 76 would have been harder to sell. But fundamentally the problem is this: I pay attention to the ad campaigns. And while I can tell you what Proposition 13 stood for, I couldn't for the life of me tell you wish one was Teacher Tenure reform, and which one was to roll back Proposition 98's school funding guarantees that led us to such cost-effective projects as the construction of the Belmont Learning Center in Los Angeles.

(Quick quiz for those living in California: without doing a Google search, do you know which one is school funding reform and which one is teacher tenure reform? Or would you have known that 75 was for switching public labor union political funding from "opt-out" to "opt-in" if I hadn't mentioned it a couple of paragraphs before?)

Fundamentally yesterday's elections and failure for Schwarzenegger to get his propositions is not a sign that California is doomed, or that the voters are idiots. Nor should it be read by the labor unions who control California politics that they are safe, and it sure as hell shouldn't embolden them to strangle Sacramento any further than they currently do.

No, it should be read as a complete failure by Schwarzenegger's people to run a campaign that relies upon anything other than Schwarzenegger's camera presence and ego.

The meme has been planted, and like Proposition 13 which took a taxpayer's revolt (and several years of campaigning) before it passed, these reforms will eventually come down the pike. Time for the labor unions to come to some sort of compromise with Sacramento and give up a little power now before the people take all the power away later.

posted by William Woody at 1:04 PM

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A moderate conservative living in the left coast, surrounded by the sureal, wonders if there is a sane life living amongst those who have lost touch with reality.

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