Wednesday, September 03, 2003

I am not a citizen, nor resident of California. Therefore concerning the upcoming recall I have no dog in the race so to speak.
Being a news junkie however, I do have opinions about the recall, specifically who is deserving of support & who is not. These opinions bear no weight unless you happen to agree with them & be eligible to vote in California. I am not sure how many Californians visit this blog on any sort of regular basis so I may well be expanding this effort for naught. Nevertheless i feel the answer to the age old question is yes, a blogger is still a blogger even if he/she blogs in a forest with no one to fisk him/her.

Hugh Hewitt is the host of a very popular conservative talk radio show. I listen to him whenever possible. He's very entertaining & perhaps one of the best showmen in radio. That being said I do not find him without fault.

Michael Medved hosts another very popular conservative talk radio show. I also listen to him whenever possible. His show is definitely political, but often focuses more on the cultural effects of politics than the mechanics, although he touches on that as well. That being said I do not find him without fault.

Annika is the host & proprietor of a very popular & well written blog. She is a conservative in California which makes her rare if not downright endangered. She is perhaps one of the best new bloggers I have found recently. She's entertaining without sacrificing intellectual depth. & through the correspondences we've had on various subjects I have come to regard her as a friend. That being said, with the most sincere regret I do not find her without fault.

What fault do I find with Mr. Hewitt, Mr. Medved & Ms. Annika respectively? While being conservative Republicans they have all endorsed Arnold Scwarzenegger. & since Mr. Schwarzenegger is running as a Republican you might be wondering why I find their endorsement of him as a fault. Allow me to explain:

Mr. Schwarzenneger has views that are more aptly described as liberal rather than conservative. Without going into too many of the details I feel he would be a Republican in name only, unless the Republican party is finally making the official shift to the left that they have been doing in practice for decades. In short his policies as Governor would be less beneficial than most would think. In fact they could even be harmful.

But the supporters of Mr. Schwarzenegger I mentioned above know this. They admit it freely. Not so much that Mr. Schwarzenegger may be harmful to California, but that he's not the "best" conservative Republican candidate out there.

So why do they endorse Mr. Schwarzenegger? Because Mr. Schwarzenegger has the best chance of winning.

For republicans &/or conservatives in California it comes down to two choices: Mr. Schwarzenegger, who does have some good ideas but on the balance is not as conservative nor as Republican as most (conservative Republicans that is) would like; & Sen. Tom McClintock, who is perhaps the most qualified Republican candidate for Governor that California has seen in a very long time.

Most of the things that Mr. Schwarzenegger's supporters say makes him a good candidate (repeal of the car tax, measures to revive business, measures to stop mass immigration from California, etc...) are things that Sen. McClintock has been advocating for some time. Further, the things on which Mr. Schwarzenegger drifts a bit, Sen. McClintock stays true to the course.

But Mr. Schwarzenegger has one thing over Sen. McClintock that his supporters have latched onto & are holding onto for dear life: He would be much easier to get elected.

So instead of opting to put their support behind a candidate whose views would better serve California but would have a slightly tougher time getting elected, they put their backing behind a candidate whose views are less than ideal & in some cases could be harmful but has the potential to be an easier win.

I've seen the same logic before. Mostly it comes form the NRA when they try to explain why they supported a gun control bill. The most typical example is the NRA's support of the current Colorado Concealed Carry law. The NRA pushed firmly for this law because it was Shall Issue whereas the previous law was May Issue. In doing so they totally ignored another CCW bill that was introduced at the same time but soon tabled. The new CCW law is not much better & in some cases worse than the old CCw law & definitely inferior to the proposed but tabled CCW law. So why did the NRA push for an inferior CCW law? Because they claimed the better CCW law wouldn't pass.

What we have is a situation that can be desribed most aptly as a self fufilling prophecy: If you put all of your effort behind plan B on the assumption that plan A will fail, then regardless of plan B's outcome, plan A will fail.

The parallels between this so called pragmatic view of the California recall & various laws backed by the NRA are obvious. In both cases a better option is ignored because of a perceived or claimed difficulty in seeing it through. Also, it is claimed that any opposition for the more idealogically correct choice would be in effect a vote for the idealogically wrong choice.

But a strong counter to these arguments is the annoying little idea that if support was given fully to the better qualified candidate or idea then perhaps he/she/it would win out over the ill qualified candidate or idea.

Ms. Annika has a very thoughful essay explaining her reasons for supporting Mr. Schwarzenegger. Her main argument is that Mr. Schwarzenegger has the best chance of winning & therefore voting for another candidate, even one more qualified & in ine with her political philosophy would split the Republican vote & in effect put yet another Democrat in office.

Since Mr. Hewitt & Mr. Medved have expressed the bulk of their views on air & Ms. Annika has conveniently put hers in print, & Mr. Hewitt's, Mr. Medved's, & Ms. Annika's views tend to overlap I will reluctantly pick on her as a representative of the pro-Schwarzenegger-because-he-can-win group. I need to come up with a cathcier name though...The Easy Arnold Crowd? The Schwarzenegger Shoe-In Folks?

"The message will be sent, and the liberal experimenters will shake in their boots all across the country, BUT ONLY IF WE WIN! Those five words are the most important words in this whole essay.
Because if we lose, they breathe a sigh of relief and go back to business as usual..."

That is the heart of a very well written & almost persuasive essay. But let's examine the 5 words that Ms. Annika & others are so fixated on: But Only If We Win.

Winning seems to be the operative word. Don't get me wrong - winning can be a very good thing. But just as important are answers to the questions "How did you win" & "What did you win"?

Let's examine the former: How would Californians win in the recall? I would venture to say that winning would encompass putting someone in place whose social & economic policies are better for California than the sitting Governor. Honestly this wouldn't be hard. So let's answer the question by saying that winning would be accomplished by voting for someone with compatable politics to our own.

Mr. Schwarzenegger certainly does have that big "R" beside his name, but does that make him a Republican? Sadly enough, nowadays it does. In the olden days, back when dirt was just an idea that hadn't been patented, Republicans held the banner of 'small government' proudly before them. (Well, except for that Lincoln thing, but the discussion on the damage he did to the concept of federalism will have towait for another time.) The Republican Party is increasingly the party in favor of "smaller goverment...than the Democrats want, but not by much". So for those who just wish to see a Republican in office no matter how left-leaning &/or Socialist &/or Democrat-like (that was what you call a necessary triple redundancy) his policies are, then all other arguments are negated & we need only look for the candidate with the best chance of winning.

But should an "R" beside the name need to be backed by a center-right to right wing view of things, perhaps going so far as being labeled 'conservative' or (heaven forbid) 'libertarian' then the candidate who would make winning possible would change. It would no longer be Mr. Schwarzenegger, but Sen. McClintock. If it takes more than having the "R" beside the name then McClintock's election would be the goal of winning.

Now let's examine the latter question: "What did you win"?

In all probabilty the policies of Mr. Schwarzenegger will be little different than the policies of any center-left Democrat. So while his election may make things a little better for the Republican party, having added one more victory & office holder to their roles, they would not necessarily make things better than when Gov. Davis was in control. What would be won by Mr. Schwarzenegger's election is not dissimilar from what the NRA claims as a victory any time a gun control bill they approve of passes: The party claiming victory gets bragging rights & perhaps a little more clout, while the individuals whom the party is suppossed to represent gets screwed. No dinner. No flowers. No movie. No warm caresses. No phone call the next day. At best you get word from a friend that they thought you were o.k. in bed, but it was necessary to move on.

With Sen. McClintock you get a Republican in the old sense of the term, & possibly a libertarian leaning conservative (depending upon how you define those terms). There is little danger of Sen. McClintock adapting a more leftist/socialist/Democrat stance on things. If he's standing firmly against those things in the face of an election, chances would be slim (though not non-existent) that he'd betray the principles he has espoused after he was elected. With McClintock you'd most likely get what you see.

& let it be known that I say all of this with a grain of reservation, as poltiicians are the most unpredictable of creatures. One can usually count on their personal greed & lust for power to predict their actions, but sometimes they attempt to satisfy those cravings in unexpected ways. So anything is possible, although I believe that my conclusions are more probable than not.

"But is he right for California? i think that's the wrong question to ask. The question i ask is: can he win?"

To that I must disagree. That line of reasoning - the pragmatic approach - is one of the most direct & immediete causes of our political situation. Voting for a candidate based on his potential to win rather than his fitness for the job is no different than picking a mate based not on the quality of their character but the likeleyhood of their fertility.

So I submit that when it comes to disregarding the question of "should he win?" to give preference to the question of "can he win?" then you've already lost.

But to answer Ms. Annika's question - Mr. Schwarzenegger can win the election. However I don't think he would be correct for California unless Ms. Annika feels that correctness leans left of center, or more towards socilaism &/or libera;ism (in the modern political sense of the word). & knowing Ms. Annika she's probably a rather dangerous shade of red at the thought of me implying that. So Mr. Schwarzenegger would be able to win, but not right for California. In effect that's buying a $2 raffle ticket trying to win a $1 jackpot. Sure, the chances of winning are probably good (after all, how many people would be willing to buy a competeting ticket?) but by winning you end up losing.

"A caller to the John and Ken show said that he'd never vote for Schwarzenegger because he's in favor of the assault weapons ban. My question to that person is this: What do you think Bustamonte is going to do to your Second Amendment rights?"

This one I couldn't leave alone. The argument is that even though Mr. Schwarzenegger is against the Right to Arms, his Democrat opponent is just as oppossed if not more so to people exercising their Rights. That might be a compelling argument (although not to me personally) in a two candidate race, but this is not a two candidate race. There are many other candidates & one of them happens to be a Republican who is very much for the Right to Arms. In fact, here's a speech Sen. McClintock gave in 2001 called Freedom & Firearms.

But let's assume for the sake of argument that the only two candidates are Mr. Schwarzenegger & lt. Gov. Bustamonte. Both are against the Right to Arms. so who does a voter who cherishes his Right to Arms vote for? Neither. eeven if it meant not voting for eithe rone in a two person election that would be the onyl choice. It'd be nice to write in "None of the Above" on the ballot, but if that weren't possible then staying at home would be prefferable to helping either one get elected.

Most people view politics as a game, & with any game being on the winning side becomes important. But politics is not a game - it can literally be a matter of life & death. Sometimes there is no choice to be made - where a vote for either candidate would be a vote for your own demise. Practically speaking the effect of the vote will make no difference to you - either way the candidate who wins will do you harm. But there is no advantage to voting for one or the other given the obvious outcome. Voting would only matter if there were other issues involved on which the candidates disagreed & you had an interest in. But for the single issue voters it would be more beneficial to stay at home loading ammo or spend some time at the range in preperation for attempts at confiscation. Yelling, "but I voted for that guy!" will not make him reconsider a gun confiscation bill, nor will it persuade his lap dogs from breaking in your door & attempting to take your arms.

But as I said it is not merely a choice between the two. It is choosing to choose between the two. sen. McClintock is a viable option, despite what others (especially Mr. Hewitt) would say. So the answer to Ms. Annika's question is not describing how horrible it would be for gun owners under Gov. Bustamonte, but describing how nice it could be under Gov. McClintock.

"It's not a matter of principle. It's simple math. A vote for McClintock is a vote for Bustamonte. A vote for Ueberroth is a vote for Busamonte. No amount of impassioned argument will change that simple fact."

Actually the fact is not so simple, & it definitely can be changed.

What do you think would happen if, instead of everyone asking Sen. McClintock to drop out so that Mr. Schwarzenegger can receive the support of many more Republicans, that mr. Schwarzenegger was asked to drop out so Sen. McClintock could recieve the support of many more Republicans? What if Mr. Hewitt, Mr. Medved & Ms. Annika decided to endorse Sen. McClintock? That could shift things decisively in Sen. McClintock's favor.

The similarities to the recall in California & many gun control laws is startling. You have an option that's bad (Lt. Gov. Bustamonte or an original draft of a gun control bill), an option that's a little better (Mr. Schwarzenegger or an NRA approved gun control bill) & an option that's markedly better than the previous two choices (Sen. McClintock or a Ron paul/GOa approved counter to the gun control bill) But instead of sticking to principles & seeing through a difficult fight, the ones who should be backing the best option settle for an inferior option based on political expediency.

But what we are left with is a self fufilling prophecy: they all respectively believe that sen. McClintock has no chance of winning & that Mr. Schwarzenegger has the best chance of winning so they support Mr. Schwarzenegger despite his views. Perhaps if they shifted their support then others would be influenced & sen. McClintock's chances would be greatly increased.

As it stands now, Sen. McCl;intock doesn't have a very good chance of winning - not because he isn't the right candidate but because those who should support him have turned their backs on him for the sake of an easy VINO. What's a VINO you may ask? That'd be a Victory In Name Only. Funny, it seems to rhyme with RINO - Republican In Name Only.

Despite this & despite assertions that a vote for McClintock is a vote for Lt. Gov. Bustamonte, I council voting your conscience. In My case that would be Sen. McClintock, as he seems like the only candidate who would have some reverence for an individuals' Rights.

& I cannot stress enough that it pains me to be in such disagreement with Ms. Annika. I disagree frequently with Mr. Hewitt & Mr. Medved & that doesn't seem to bother me. In fact I often disagree with the methods & logic they use to arrive at conclusions I do agree with them on. But I assume that anytime you disagree with someone you respect as well as like it's a little more difficult than disagreeing with someone whom you just like or are entertained by.

One other thing...all this is theoretical for me on two fronts: I'm not a California voter, nor likely will I ever be & second - I do not believe California can be 'fixed'. Containment is the best that can be hoped for. There are a lot of good people in California & I wish them all well (some of my best friends are Californian!), but California's internal structure & political nature are so far gone that nothing short of a revolution (yes, I mean the kind with guns & people storming the capitol) will be able to set things right. Considering the nature of the majority of voters in California I doubt this would happen, or in the event that it would the system that replaces the current one there would likely be worse than the one in place now. But whoever does win the recall election will not likely be able to set things straight. Postpone the inevitable for a time perhaps, but I fear California is lost.

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