Sister Edith Myflesh
07 October 2003
California Uber Alles
While the prospect of having The Terminator as Governor of California for the next three years does not please me, I do have to say that all is not as bleak as it looks. For starters, they're saying that the turnout for this election was the best they've seen in a long time. "Unofficial projections were that more than 60 percent of the state's 15.4 million registered voters cast ballots Tuesday... If the projection holds, it will be the highest voter turnout for a governor's race since 1982, when 69.8 percent cast ballots." If I recall correctly, only about 30% of the registered voters actually voted in the last election here in San Francisco.

I'm very glad to see that both sides managed to get the voters to the polls. I personally believe that our democratic system is the best form of government around. However, it was designed with the idea that the people being governed actually take part in the governing process. At the very least, that means making educated decisions when you're voting. Sadly, we have moved from a "by the people for the people" system to a "by the people with money for the people with money" system where paid lobbyists and PACs have more influence than the people being governed. This recall is a perfect example of how far we've strayed and I'm guessing that very few people will notice it as such.

I'd also like to point out the numbers: as of 11:06PM (PDT), SFGate was reporting that the recall vote was at 54.9% yes, 45.1% no with 47% of precincts reporting. In their article about the election results, SFGate said, "[a]ngry Californians overwhelmingly voted to recall Gov. Gray Davis and replace him with actor Arnold Schwarzenegger..." I wouldn't call a 10% lead "overwhelming." The SFGate was also reporting that Schwarzenegger had 48.9% of the vote and Bustamante had 31.7%. Again, Schwarzenegger was leading by only about 17%. This race was far from a landslide.

I also think that, of the possible choices, Schwarzenegger was far from the worst. I shudder at the thought of McClintock as governor. Sadly, most of our elections seem to be the choice of the lesser of two evils. Of course, the Democrats and the Republicans are nearly indistinguishable, so...

I found this little tidbit interesting: "Even before the results were tallied Tuesday, an anonymous tipster called to alert us that 'there will be another recall. I am the 311th person to pledge $1,000 -- it's my privilege to put up that kind of money -- to recall Arnold Schwarzenegger if he's elected,' the caller said. 'That's $311,000 in the Bay Area, and I understand we are doing even better in the L.A. area.'"

While the thought of continuing this farce is slightly amusing, it doesn't really bode well for California's already struggling economy. The recall has already cost $66 million -- $11 million for state and $55 million for 58 counties. Wasn't the whole point of this circus the fact that Governor Davis had supposedly ruined California's economy?

As I said, this recall is a tragic example of some of the worst failings of our current system of government. I would really like to see someone take this experience and apply it to governement as a whole. The changes that we have to make are serious and far-reaching and I doubt that I will ever see them in my lifetime. But I believe that making those changes starts with the individual. If you have not already read it, I highly recommend Paul Rogat Loeb's "Soul of a Citizen: Living With Conviction in a Cynical Time". Sister Betty turned me on to this book and I found it to be amazing, both for me personally and in my work as a Sister.

To my fellow Californians I say, don't let this get you down. Having Arnold as Governor may be a return to "California Uber Alles" (you all remember Pete Wilson, don't you?), but it's not the end of the world. As long as we're willing to stand up for what we believe in, we will never lose.

And this little tidbit makes me proud to live in San Francisco: "If it were up to the Bay Area, Gray Davis would remain in the governor's mansion... Local voters also favored Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante over Arnold Schwarzenegger as the best person to succeed Davis. The only county where the results appeared close was Solano. And nowhere was the 'no' vote stronger than in San Francisco."
recorded in the Book of Politics :: testify, Sister!

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