Recall Revolt Likely to Fizzle

The level of anger out there fueled by the recall has become evident in the tone of talk-radio callers and of the messages I’ve received recently on voicemail and email. Many Californians believe today’s election is the last chance to “save” their state from total destruction.

That’s a lot of hope to place in the ballot box, given that at the end of the day, the state will still be ruled by a liberal governor (Gray Davis, Cruz Bustamante or Arnold Schwarzenegger), a left-wing Legislature and a host of Democratic statewide office-holders who hold views just to the right of those expressed in Cuba or North Korea.

I can’t help but shake my head at the way a real-life voter revolt has morphed into the current mess. What’s really astounding is how the state’s liberal elites cannot even tolerate the election of a Hollywood Republican. The Democrats, and their allies in the media, have pulled out all the stops to save a universally unloved governor.

It’s another reminder to those of us on the Right: If we’re going to get bashed, why not get bashed with the real thing? Why not fight the good fight on behalf of someone with principles?

If I believed in conspiracies, I would suggest that the Arnold Schwarzenegger candidacy is part of a big one. What better way to calm down the angry people who pay the taxes and might be fleeing elsewhere than to give them a Republican governor who isn’t really a Republican at all?

Sure, Schwarzenegger (or one of his aides) penned an interesting piece for the Wall Street Journal singing the praises of free markets. During the Republican convention in Los Angeles, he told a Republican women’s luncheon that he favored capitalism over communism and preferred Ronald Reagan over Jimmy Carter. That was enough to excite the crowd. But, really, how risky is it to oppose communism and support Ronald Reagan in 2003?

But, no, even Schwarzenegger is too much of a bone to throw to the frustrated middle-class electorate, according to those waging last-ditch efforts to derail his candidacy. The Los Angeles Times broke a story on Thursday detailing many times Schwarzenegger allegedly groped women. I’m sure the stories are generally true, although it’s interesting the Times waited until the last minute to drop the bomb, and has refused to report on a worse story about Gray Davis.

As Jill Stewart, an investigative reporter formerly with New Times LA, wrote in a Los Angeles Daily News column on Saturday: “Since at least 1997, the Times has been sitting on information that Gov. Gray Davis is an ‘office batterer’ who has attacked female members of his staff, thrown objects at subservients and launched into red-faced fits, screaming the f-word until staffers cower. …

“He so violently shoved his loyal, 62-year-old secretary out of a doorway that she suffered a breakdown and refused to ever work in the same room with him.”

In recent weeks, one aide to a prominent Orange County official told me that Davis had gotten on the phone with the official, yelling vulgar obscenities because the official had endorsed Schwarzenegger. In other words, the Jill Stewart allegations are believable.

By and large, the media ignored Stewart and are playing up the groping allegations. No one is covering in any serious or critical way Cruz Bustamante’s past associations and current defense of a radical, racist Latino organization. I’m sure there are fair and balanced non-liberal reporters out there. I’ll let you know when I meet one.

There’s a sense that the game is rigged. The Left controls all levels of government and the media. The Right, such as it is, is spending all its time battling those within the Republican Party who believe that the way to beat the Left is to become the Left, only less so.

People from across the country send me smug emails about how crazy we are in California. Guess what, California is only a little more advanced than the rest of the country. The trends going on out here are coming (and already have come in places such as Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey) to a state near you.

How much more can we tax and regulate business? How much more can we tax and regulate the electorate? How much more money should the government spend? What new programs and mandates should the government pass? Apparently, all Californians agree on the need for socialism; the only question is how quickly to implement the program. Add to this the extra layer of Bush administration national socialism, and one can see our freedoms slipping away.

Of statewide politicians, only state Sen. Tom McClintock has offered a challenge to the underlying premises. Yet he is stuck at 15 percent in the polls, due to the liberal nature of the electorate in California and to the refusal of the state’s big business interests — who give about 90 percent of their money to Democrats — to give McClintock sufficient funds to run a competitive race.

Regardless of the misconceptions people have from other parts of the country, this is a beautiful state. It’s not just the weather, the scenery, and the beaches, but the overall lifestyle — even for middle-class folks. California, and Southern California in particular, is a collection of suburban communities. Even Los Angeles is largely suburban. Out-of-towners are shocked when they see Compton or Watts, and realize that these crime-ridden neighborhoods are filled with single-family suburban homes; they are not like North Philly or the South Bronx.

It’s tough to watch this lovely state get ruined. Democrats control every constitutional office, and the Legislature is controlled by Democrats, although by just short of a two-thirds majority. If it were not for the state Constitution’s two-thirds vote requirement for increasing taxes and passing a budget, California’s tax burden would be unbearable. Of course, the public sector unions are now circulating an initiative to undermine that two-thirds restriction.

The governor just signed SB 2, which imposes a health-care mandate on employers. Don’t worry, though, officials assure us this law will actually increase jobs by creating a happier work force. Even the rhetoric here has a quaint socialist sound.

Democrats are doing everything they can to bring in as many unskilled Mexican workers as possible to assure Democratic electoral victories forever. It’s working. Now that illegal immigrants have a right to a driver’s license, larger numbers will come across the border.

Traffic is becoming a nightmare, and the state now spends only 1 percent of the general fund on infrastructure — down from 15 percent to 20 percent during the Pat Brown and Ronald Reagan eras. Top transportation officials brag that the era of freeway building is over, and want to spend most of the money on light rail and other forms of mass transit.

The list of problems is long. These wouldn’t be big problems if normal people were in charge. Is it that hard to balance the budget, spend money on roads rather than union pensions, quit regulating and push the federal government to do its job at the Mexican border?

What to do today?

Do I vote for the Groper in the hopes that he at least will wield a veto pen? Do I vote for McClintock, who is the best choice but whose success could cause a Bustamante victory? Do I stay home, realizing the fix is in and nothing will change?

I still think California voters are wise to recall Davis, if for no other reason than to rebuke the Democratic Party and the Los Angeles Times. I’ll probably vote for McClintock, but won’t be too upset if Schwarzenegger wins, as expected. But I warn recall supporters not to expect too much. The recall is a genuine middle-class uprising, albeit one that won’t make much difference in the long run. That’s no surprise. As the saying goes, if voting could change anything, “they” wouldn’t allow it.

Steven Greenhut (send him mail) is a senior editorial writer and columnist for the Orange County Register.

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