I haven’t written much on the California circus recall election since just after Arnold Schwarzenegger’s entry into the race. Frankly, I didn’t want to give too much attention to the Terminator’s stupid and freakish bid and it is difficult for me to fathom that there are people gullible enough to consider him seriously. But gullible people exist, and Arnie, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamente, and 134 other candidates have been certified to run for the Golden State’s top job. The time seems right to take a look at what is going on with the election.
Ernest Partridge and Bernard Weiner, co-editors of “The Crisis Papers” suspect the Republican effort to launch this recall of Gov. Gray Davis — which indeed, looks like a circus — is really a coup attempt, a move to scatter and weaken the Democratic Party.
Even though the Democrats are barely distinguishable from the Republicans on many issues, the power-hungry forces of Bush&Co. want to make sure that the Democrats are so scattered, debilitated and demoralized that their opposition will mean nothing when the Bush forces begin, after their projected 2004 victory, to roll over the political landscape. Accordingly, the Rove demolition team has taken aim at the primary sources of financial support to the Democratic Party: e.g., the teachers and public-service unions, and the trial lawyers.
(This desire for total control reminds one of how the Watergate scandal started: All the polls indicated that Nixon was going to win a huge victory over his Democratic opponent, Sen. McGovern. But this wasn’t enough for Nixon. He felt that he had to insure his win by tapping the telephone of the DNC chairman.)
And so, in large state after large state, the Democratic party and its institutions are being attacked.
- In Texas, on orders from Washington — read: Karl Rove and hatchetman Tom Delay — there is an illegal attempt to redistrict the Congressional delegation, so that the Democrats will lose their majority.
- In Florida, and in the rest of the states moving to a computer-registration and voting system, the same forces that ensured a Bush victory in 2000 in the Sunshine State, are hard at work to minimize the Democratic vote once again.
- Remember that for the 2000 election in Florida, about 94,000 Democratic voters, under the cover that they all were convicted felons, were removed electronically from the computerized polling lists and not permitted to vote, even though 91,000 of those names were there by mistake. Of course, this outrageous act alone sufficed to yield Florida, and eventually the White House, to Bush.
- In California, a governor elected in a fair vote just nine months ago is now subject to recall and replacement, even though he has done nothing criminal or outrageous that would warrant such an extreme move.
In short, what is going on here is an attempt to get these large, electoral vote-rich states into the Bush column for 2004 and to the GOP beyond.
Conspiracy theory or plausible scenario? Read the Partridge-Weiner editorial and decide for yourself.
Many are watching the race — including the near-constant bickering now under way — and feeling amusement or fear over what they are seeing. (I couldn’t resist chuckling when the news came that the recall has even prompted a new television game show.) For those living somewhere between those poles, the election is serious business, both for California and for the rest of the US. Democratic governors of some other states see what is happening in California as a forewarning of what could happen to them if the GOP gets its way. The American Civil Liberties Union is asking for the election’s October date to be postponed.
For those who don’t want to see a Republican win California’s governorship, many liberals say the plan is to vote NO on recall, and then YES to present frontrunner Bustamente. But what about progressives? Should they support Independent Arianna Huffington or Green Peter Camejo? Or should they align with a Democratic Party that does not stand for many vital progressive concerns? That would be up to each voter’s conscience.
As for Ah-nuld. Much has been made of his inexperience, his connection to Nazi war criminal Kurt Waldheim, and his alleged womanizing. I am worried that those supporting him are being foolish because the man has no political experience beyond posing for photo opportunities and ducking difficult questions. Is Schwarzenegger bigoted as some claim? I do not know and have never before given that matter any thought. It seems to me that the Waldheim situation needs addressing (noting that I count a few Religious-Right types and ex-gays as friends; doesn’t mean I agree with them) and that his involvement with the group US English warrants serious examination.
According to the organization’s web site, “US ENGLISH, Inc. is the nation’s oldest, largest citizens’ action group dedicated to preserving the unifying role of the English language in the United States. Founded in 1983 by the late Senator S.I. Hayakawa, an immigrant himself, US English now has 1.7 million members nationwide.” The group supports the English Language Unity Act of 2003, which would make English the official language of the US.
Opponents of the group have a number of concerns:
Opponents to U.S. English view this organization to be quite different in nature. They believe (according to writer Anne Brabson; her article is available only through a cached Google page):
- The group is a very restrictionist organization.
- Its membership includes some very racist elements.
- It is a foe of bilingual education.
- It discriminates heavily against minorities.
- Its goal of assimilation comes at the expense of multiculturalism.
- It relies on stereotypes, rather than on empirical evidence, when stating that minority languages threaten English.
- It promotes paranoia and xenophobia.
Among the organization’s advisory-board members is Arnold Schwarzenegger. Again, I am not accusing the actor of anything (except, IMO, of not being a good actor), but the connection does merit investigation, as is noted in this Aug. 13 Blogritics posting by filmmaker and former California gubernatorial candidate Brian Flemming.
Ultimately, people must decide if the showbiz star is qualified to handle the rigors of public office. Showbiz wrestler Jesse Ventura, governor of Minnesota from 1998 to 2002, grew disenchanted with the realities of his post during his tumultuous time in office. The man known to millions as “The Body” (a soon-to-be MSNBC talk-show host who does not support the recall effort) offers advice to Schwarzenegger in the Taipei Times: “If I was Arnold, I wouldn’t let them make me into a cookie cutter. I mean, look what they’re doing to him. He looks wooden.” I would say “robotic.”
Update: The informative blog Body and Soul presents more information on US English and makes the case that, yes, Schwarzenegger’s affiliations are important in assessing his worth as a candidate, whatever Calpundit‘s thoughtful centrist Kevin Drum has to say on the subject.