I never liked going to the circus, so I didn’t vote in the 2003 California gubernatorial recall election. Unfortunately, not much has changed in California politics.
What should be a reasoned form of politicking and coalition building has turned into a Jerry Springer-type battle, where “he said” and “she said” bickering is the dominant trait of compromise. But what did we expect when an action hero, a former child celebrity, a porn star and a porn mogul were among the contenders?
The only difference about politics then and politics now is the arguments are now being driven onto television, leaving many Californians confused.
Are teachers supporting or criticizing the governor?
One ad from the California Teachers Association batters Schwarzenegger for not fully funding public schools, and for attempting to award tenure based on test results, instead of seniority.
A few minutes later, another ad appears on screen, showing teachers who support Schwarzenegger, claiming he has fully funded schools and praising him for trying to reward teachers based on merit.
The ad was paid for in part of the California Republican Party, which hopes to thwart the recent abundance of criticism the governor has received.
Yet most of that criticism seems to be warranted, considering the only campaign promise the governor has kept has been his personal challenge to “take it to the voters.” This claim might have been a great incentive for frustrated voters during the crazy days of the recall election, but it has quickly turned from “cute” to “quite annoying.”
The former movie star seems unwilling to say goodbye to the cameras, and is constantly making 30 second appearances on television, reassuring viewers that he is fighting for us, and that he plans to make everything better in California.
Rather than reassuring, the ads have become frustrating. His constant ads do very little for a governor who seems to brush off his mistakes with a smile and a joke, blaming it on his bad English or on his jovial demeanor.
His promise to take issues directly to the voters seems to now be an indication of his inability to establish any form of consensus in Sacramento, as he continues to alienate legislators with insensitive comments and a lack of familiarity with issues.
The governor recently made a statement indicating that the California-Mexico border should be completely closed off. As appealing as it might be to conservative Californians, the statement is a big political no-no, and Schwarzenegger was quick to blame the comment on his poor English skills, saying he had to return to school.
When nurses were protesting the nurse-to-patient ratio, the governor made a statement saying the nurses where just angry because he “kicks their butts every day.” Such outbursts might not make him the most popular person in Sacramento, even though action hero buffs might still like him.
Those who thought Gov. Schwarzenegger would turn out to be the outsider who could clean up the capitol from special interest groups and bickering politicians are getting a dose of reality. The same man who criticized Gray Davis for his constant fundraising is now outpacing the former governor.
Widely recognizable, Schwarz- enegger is having no difficulty gathering up cash for his goals. While on the fundraising trail on the East Coast, the governor gathered about $1.5 million, requiring a minimum $22,300 to gain entry at many of his fundraising events. He must think that either special interests do not exist on the East Coast, or expects Californians to believe that those who have donated thousands of dollars to his campaign will not look for favors later on.
So the governor keeps making appearances on television, between baseball games and television dramas, trying to win the favor of voters. Sometimes he doesn’t even pay for it, as some television ads paid for by groups having nothing to do with Schwarzenegger are trying to garner support for a provision that would allow the governor and other naturalized citizens to run for president.
The governor would do well to spend some time away from the cameras, studying up on the state’s issues. He has already proven he has a hard time keeping away from special interests, but talking to elected representatives of Californians, unions and legislators, would do him, and Californians, some good. After all, voters elected him governor, not state spokesperson.