No matter who ends up "winning" - either Governor Gray Davis if he clings on to power, or Arnold Schwarzennegger if he gets the nod - the imbroglio in California illustrates some eternal political truths. First, everyone who runs for political office is a politician even though they often make great pretense at not being one. Witness Arnold, campaigning against 'the politicians in Sacramento' (borrowing the hoary, age-old political device of running as an outsider), mastering the soundbite, speaking at length without saying anything specific, etc.
Speaking of Arnold denouncing the 'politicians in Sacramento,' aren't these the people that he will have to work with to turn the economy around? Is he going to gain their cooperation by denouncing them as knaves and as responsible for California's woes? Curiously enough, unlike most 'normal' people, politicians do not seem to mind being treated as the spawn of Satan during elections, and they seem to be able to put this sort of thing behind them after the elections... This is explained by the second truth - politicians will do anything to get elected. Thus they generally do not hold such tactics against their opponents.
The very use of the recall illustrates the third law - politicians have very short time horizons, generally only to the next election and no further. Politicians and the parties seem to not bother much about the long-term consequences of their actions... They often do things to gain short-term advantage, not thinking that eventually the other party will be in power, at which point turnaround will be fair game. Thus we have the spectacle of the Democrats blocking President Bush's judicial appointments, Republicans steamrolling their opponents in the House, the administration pushing executive privilige as far as it can, etc. All actions that will be reciprocated at some point.
Lastly, the people get the government they deserve, this even though they usually are not willing to take responsibility for this fact. So we see Californians moaning about Gray Davis, who somehow got into office without any people voting for him. The spectacle continues...
© SNi 10/07/03