It seems that the temporary brain fart that allowed Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to be voted into office during the California Recall Election in Nov. 2002 has dissipated and Californians are beginning to smell more clearly.
After a period of heated political squabbling between the governor and the mostly Democratic legislative branch, Arnold decided to take matters into his own hands. Pumping both money and political pressure into the campaign, Arnold’s ego finally managed to become even more inflated than his once award-winning biceps.
In fact, it was Schwarzenegger’s belief that both he and the Republican Party would be able to rally their core voter base by promoting not one, but an assortment of antiunion laws, designed to have the combined effect of increasing the governor’s power over the state budget.
As we now know, the special election proved to be a complete failure for Arnold. The election was not merely a manifestation of the voter support that Schwarzenegger has lost since last year, but also foreshadows the difficulty he will face during his 2006 re-election campaign.
Were Californians in disagreement with the specific elections proposed, or was it a bold statement being made, rejecting Arnold and his decision to hold the election in the first place?
Indeed, even the ‘liberal’ propositions on the ballot were shot down, both because of lack of advertisements supporting them and voters’ unwillingness to realistically consider any of the propositions.
Furthermore, the election is believed to be the most expensive in California’s history. According to the California Secretary of State’s Web site, more than $400 million was spent to propose, promote and oppose the eight ballot initiatives. The $50 million that it cost to administer the election was paid for by the counties with the promise of being reimbursed by the state. With California’s debt crisis, it would seem logical to administer more practical allocation of funds.
Holding an expensive election to further the agenda of a governor whose views are not in accordance with the majority is simply not something Californians should tolerate.
This failure could have been avoided if Schwarzenegger had made a better effort to be flexible with the lesgislature, whose members, he seemed forget, were democratically elected representatives of the state. Instead, he was eager to get it directly from the voters, who only solidified the legislature’s opposition to his agenda.
Now, Schwarzenegger has both tarnished his image and hurt his chance for re-election next year although he still needs to make efforts to work peaceful with the legislature.
Perhaps this election was needed in order to force some kind of non-threatening dialogue between two highly influential institutions in our government.
Instead of looking back at the mistake that was the election, the only thing we Californians can hope for is that Arnold and the legislature will realize the hard work needed to put California’s budget back in order.
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