Friday, 08 August, 2003
All joking aside, the California recall election is yet another example of the fractious politics that have become all too common recently. This was building for most of Clinton's Presidency, and has become almost unbearable since the 2002 election. As much as I like to think I'm realistic about politics and especially politicians, I have to admit that I've been terribly naive.
It comes as no secret to anybody who knows me or who has been reading this journal for any length of time that I lean more toward what is considered "conservative." I'm a big believer in personal responsibility, self-reliance, fiscal conservatism, smaller and less intrusive government, and many of the "traditional values" that are identified as conservative. My political views are more in line with the original Libertarian party, before the anarchists took over and turned it into a radical fringe movement. In any case, I always thought that the Republicans more closely identified with the kind of governance that I desired. I see now that I was horribly wrong. How so? I'll cite three examples.
- Impeaching President Clinton. Okay, the guy was a slimeball and a liar. I knew that even before he insulted my intelligence by saying "I didn't inhale." But trying to throw him out of office because he lied about having sex with an intern in the Oval Office was stupid.
- The Texas redistricting fiasco. Yes, we have to draw new district lines in order to accommodate the Representatives we acquired in the last census. But by drawing wildly unrealistic districts in a transparent attempt to hijack the vote, Republicans have given Democrats no choice but to abstain from voting. Here the Republican leadership is playing a game of "it's my ball so I set the rules," and then they wonder why the other kids don't want to participate. Worse, they're trying to get the cops to make the Democrats play.
- The California recall election. Blaming California's fiscal problems on the Governor shows a remarkable lack of understanding. I know very little about Gray Davis, but I understand that he was held in reasonably high regard until the energy shortage problems two years ago. My read on that one is that he was just unlucky enough to be sitting in the hot seat when years of failed policy (coupled with "deregulation", a misnomer if I ever heard one) and a pretty sharp recession caught up with the state's budget. The conservative Republicans behind the recall vote jumped at the opportunity to make a bad situation worse by bringing up this whole recall thing. This move wasn't calculated to put a conservative Republican in the Governor's chair, but rather to remove the Democratic Governor and thereby make the Democrats look bad. I have little doubt that Governor Davis' remaining time in Sacramento is quite limited, but I have my doubts as to who will end up looking bad when the dust settles.
In all three cases and in many others over the last 10 years, conservative Republicans have acted in the best interest of the party rather than in the best interest of the people who they're supposed to be representing. In addition, when they do sit down to work on legislation, they play the same games that Democrats play but to a different audience. Where are the fiscal responsibility, self reliance, and limited government that is supposedly identified with conservatism? All I see are "family values" proposals that do nothing but pit one vocal minority against another and polarize the electorate. Maybe I'm just now beginning to see clearly. Maybe politics in this country has always been characterized by two groups of people spending the majority of their time arguing like little kids over who gets the biggest piece of my pie.
All things considered, I'm disgusted by the whole stinking mess.