Thursday, November 10, 2005

The California Special Election: Why the good guys lost!

The good guys did lose on Tuesday in California. Unfortunately not just the Republicans but Democrats, Green Party, Independents, and others. People. All of us as a whole. Everyone, every gender, every color, and every preference. Californians, those who voted, those that didn't vote and those who couldn't vote. I am writing this in my own opinion of course, but is it really?

This election was the first one where I felt really bad when I lost. I've lost before, Governor races, Senate races and local mayor races. This one smarts. But this time it's not partisan.
This is the first election where I looked at all issues objectively versus the usual partisan-type way. I didn't just vote Republican because I was a Republican, I voted because I felt the issues were the correct way for the state. I didn't have that chance to vote like my Mom does. When she doesn't know, she votes for the incumbent. (Quite frightening) This time, it was all about the Big 4: 74,75,76,77

When California voted Arnold in, we were voting for a change. We were tired of the incumbent, Davis, and his inability to govern. Especially after our growing state debt and power shortage woes.

Arnold was a fresh face and wasn't necessarily the traditional politician a la Ronald Reagan. Sure he was an immensely successful action star, but that fame is superficial when it comes to dealing with the state legislature. Arnold brought us immediate change, killing the 200% vehicle registration fee increase and had a successful campaign for a $15 billion bond to bail the state out and help it reorganize its debt. Arnold was on a roll in 2004. If he wasn't getting what he wanted or what would to help the state, he was going to take it to the people. He did it with Propostion 57 and 58. He proved he could do it before with Propostion 57 and 58. Was it a mistake to do it with 74-77? Maybe? Why? You only need to look at the ads and rebuttals to see why Arnold lost.

Propostion 74 was created to extend the time it took to get tenure as a school teacher from 2 years to 5 years. It also allowed for a teacher to be fired if they had unsatisfactory performance evaluations in two consecutive years. Not a bad idea eh? I can think of quite a few teachers I saw that were losers when I was growing up and in my short stint as a substitute teacher. But look at some the ads against this. On the radio they blamed Arnold for the $2 billion he "borrowed" from schools to balance the budget, indicated he'd cut music and art programs and was just picking on teachers. What does that have to do with tenure? Look at these rebuttals and arguments against Propostion 74. The arguments against 74 talk about class size, textbooks and other things that have absolutely nothing to do with tenure or qualifications for teachers. The comments for Propostion 74 on that link just talk about having a more experienced teacher earning tenure and make it easier to get rid of dead weight. That's it. Again, nothing about textbooks, class size or the state budget. Why were these used by the teacher's union to beat 74? Propostion 74 was not about students or textbooks. Just teachers.

And Propostion 75? Again the ads destroyed the actual issue of this initiative. Propostion 75 was created so unions would have to poll their members before spending union dues in politics. This is Prop 75 here. On the corner of 4th Avenue and Marshall Street in Sacramento there is an island of grass near the transit stop. On this grass, Tuesday, were numerous little "No on Prop 75" signs. Next to "No on Prop 75" were the words, "Don't Silence Our Voices". Here's the image of another. Read what Propostion 75 says and then read the sign. Who is telling unions to shut up or to silence their voices? Actually, since 75 didn't pass, it's the union bosses. In my opinion, unions are political groups. Why is the process of polling their members for decisions on political issues such a threat? Then there is a site like this calling Proposition 75 "a first step in cutting education, health care and retirement". The fact is union members do not choose what their unions are for or against. It's done by a select few collecting member dues. Proposition 75 does not control what unions decide for benefits like health care and retirement for their members.

The last two propostions were 76, the balance budget amendment and 77, the redistricting initiative. These were really the meat and potatoes of the whole thing. Arguments for and against 76 are a bit perplexing and really hide the actual issue in California: It's debt. We spend too much money. I hate to sound partisan but what solutions are available since we didn't pass 76? Well, the reality is, we really needed Proposition 77 more than 76 to solve our annual budget crisis. Here is Proposition 77 in detail. This initiative was interesting because it selected three retired judges chosen by leaders who had to cross party lines to make their choices. There is a bit of randomness and cross party selections to get to the three judges. And if the tshree judge couldn't agree unanimously on redistricting the process would be started again until a unanimous decision was made. One argument against Proposition 77 was that "3 retired judges" were accountable to no one. Unfortunately the three judges could only vote unanimously which throws the accountability argument out the window, in my opinion, because unless the vote was absolute, the judge panel would be broken apart and the selection process would start over. Why is redistricting needed? Well... in 2004 153 seats were up for grabs. Not one seat changed parties. 153 races and not one different party? A bit odd eh? Well, currently those in power draw their own districts. Its called gerrymandering and I didn't know what that was until I studied Proposition 77. Proposition 77 was supported by nearly all major California newspapers. Note how the link also points out more trash about 77 that are flat out lies. Too bad though, 76 and 77 went down big. But was this all Arnold's fault? The ads were scathing and sometimes wrong but can Arnold be the blame?

Well... Arnold failed big here. In retrospect, and you couldn't convince me of this before Tuesday. Arnold failed and failed California because he asked us to decide too much and he pitted us against one another. And by giving us Propostions 74 and 75 which in all reality, did nothing to reform the real problems in Government, he brought on onslaught of unions which have a pretty substantial strangle-hold on us as Californians. Propositions 74 and 75 picked on teachers and unions and they fought back hard which destroyed the attention Propositions 76 and 77 needed. Proposition 77, though very creative, could have been done better and was the biggest issue on the ballot. There were mixed views for some propositions. Congressman Doolittle, a Republican, asked us not to vote on Proposition 77 because it was possible we'd loose power in Congress with a loss of Republican Congressional Seats. But was Arnold wrong to propose these initiatives to the voters? No. Not so fast. He did prove his point, this state needs real reform which he has been consistent with all along. I believe this guy can recover and this election could actually be a blessing. The assembly speaker is already asking for Schwarzenegger to apologize on the 11 o clock news in Sacramento. Apologize for what? Apologize for questioning the work of the state legislature that spends more than the state has coming in, in revenue? Questioning why not one of the 153 seats in the California Congressional Districts changed parties? Our government is a democracy, and some times we need to remember that when we choose our battles or go on television and ask the Governor to say sorry. If the snakes and squirrels like Barbara Kerr of the California Teachers Association and the state legislature continue their negative compaigns into 2006, Voters could sympathize with Arnold, because afterall, he is a popular actor and a good speaker. Unfortunately, will the good guys, California's citizens, learn from all of this? Will we ever learn to see through the ads and misleading rebuttles or will we just get sick of it and not vote as we head into 2006 or 2008? God help us if the latter occurs. It's not Democrats and Republicans now, it's us versus them.
We have to be the winners in the end.

Thanks to Bring It On for putting up with a Republican even if for only one Friday. "Have at it, Hoss."
This is cross posted on their site. Go give it a read and if you are like-minded of me, DUCK!!!

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