It seems like every
political commentator in the country is required by law to do a piece about
the recall of California Governor Gray Davis. The issue attracts columnists
and pundits like a lodestone. So I decided that it was about time I
made my obligatory trip to the feeding frenzy.
I need to make one thing quite clear to you, readers: the outcome of the
California recall election will make little or no difference in the grand
scheme of America's political culture war. It amounts to no more than
a brief, fiery skirmish that will ultimately become a minor footnote in the
story of an epic military campaign. I fear that too many of my fellow
conservatives think that regime change in Sacramento will bring about some
great social change. We need to disabuse ourselves of that notion ASAP.
California will remain a bastion of liberalism no matter who is (supposedly)
Arnold Schwarzenegger is not a conservative. It's been said many times,
but it bears repeating. The race in California isn't about ideas, it's
about who has which letter next to their name. That said, the fracas
in the Golden State is well worth talking about because it gives us an opportunity
to analyze the liberal psyche. (Berkeley won't do it, but someone has
The liberals are using three primary tactics in their defense against the
recall effort. The "Schwarzenegger's a Nazi!" drumbeat is standard
liberal claptrap and isn't worth discussing. The other two strategies
are quite interesting.
The first is that the recall is "undemocratic." But even the liberals
know this is nonsense. The people of California elected Gray Davis,
and now they want to run him out of town on a rail. Fortunately, the
state constitution has a provision for what to do when you want to oust your
Governor. The left is fond of talking about "the will of the people,"
but only when the people's will is in line with their own. This kind
of thing is not new; the leadership of some small African countries changes
more often than the Democratic playbook. Liberals are concerned with
appearances and shock value, not substance. Whether or not an argument
holds water is irrelevant to them if it makes a good slogan or sound bite.
The third element in the liberal rearguard action is the charge that Schwarzenegger
isn't qualified to be governor. Since when does a person have to devote
their entire life to politics before they can dare consider running for high
office? Liberals believe that the average, unenlightened person (by
which they usually mean everyone besides them) isn't smart enough to take
an active role in the nation's affairs, or anything else for that matter.
I remember watching a Democratic congressman argue with Bill O'Reilly about
funding for research on homosexual American Indians. "Neither one of
us is smart enough to understand this research," the congressman said in
his defense of the funding. "Speak for yourself," O'Reilly replied.
It is when people take that attitude--I'm too dumb to decide for myself so
I'll shut up and let someone else take the lead--that autocratic regimes
rise to power. All that is required for evil to triumph is for good
men to do nothing. Did all of our founding fathers work their way up
from town dogcatcher?
So we shouldn't hope for too much from the California recall. But we
should learn from it, just as we should from everything else. In politics,
as in warfare, knowing your enemy is key.
Dan Middleton is a freelance writer.