My absentee voter ballot sits on the coffee table mocking me. Whenever I think about the one race where I haven’t cast a vote, I roll my eyes and shake my head.
I voted on all the other candidates and measures long ago, and I’ve shared many of those decisions with you. But one race befuddles me, and the incomplete ballot in the family room is a constant reminder that I really dislike my choices in the California governor’s race.
I’ve written previously about my distaste for Arnold Schwarzenegger, particularly his apparent inability to acknowledge or understand that his political allies, not just his political enemies, deserve the pejorative label “special interest.”
In theory, I ought to like the Governator, given that he’s more socially liberal than your typical Republican and claims to be a fiscal conservative. After all, I’m a pro-choice, pro-same-sex marriage, pro-civil liberties, anti-eminent domain for private developers Democrat who’s voting no on every bond and tax measure appearing on the Nov. 7 ballot.
But Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill authorizing same-sex marriage and backs billions of dollars in bonds sharing space on that ballot.
Here’s what Schwarzenegger said in a press release supporting Propositions 1A through 1E, collectively known as the “public works” bonds: “Up until now, we have put no money into infrastructure, and we have fallen behind. This will discipline us to put a certain amount aside.”
Puh-lease. Discipline is making the necessary hard choices with the state legislature to pay for priorities like maintaining the state’s infrastructure with current state income, not asking taxpayers to cough up more money to pay the principle and interest on expensive bonds. And they’ll be expensive, given California’s low bond rating.
Maintaining the state’s infrastructure is a basic duty of our government. It should not require loans. It does require real fiscal discipline by making difficult decisions about what we can and cannot afford.
As for Democrat Phil Angelides, in theory, I should like him, because I’m a member of the same political party. But I voted for Steve Westly in the primary.
I don’t like Angelides’ attempts to link Schwarzenegger to President George W. Bush, which I see as a sign that he can’t think of anything important to say about the issues facing California.
In addition, Angelides waffled on Proposition 83, Jessica’s Law, causing me to suspect that he lacks the spine necessary to take unpopular stands. Angelides first expressed the understandable concern that Prop. 83’s residency restrictions would force sex offenders to live in rural areas, a worry that I share.
But after he received an avalanche of criticism for raising valid questions about important legislation, Angelides decided to support Prop. 83.
I know it’s difficult to take a stand against Prop. 83. No one, especially a politician, wants to be perceived as “on the side” of sex offenders. But an articulate, knowledgeable, courageous opponent would explain that Iowa’s experience with a similar law demonstrates Prop. 83 will make the situation worse, not better.
But instead, Angelides dropped his criticism, supported a bad bill, and missed an opportunity to show Californians that he has in-depth knowledge of this issue and a backbone.
And when he endorsed Prop. 83, Angelides issued a press release with this eye-roll inducing comment: “I’m more interested in protecting our kids than in trying to get political points this election season.”
Puh-lease. If Angelides was really interested in protecting kids, and truly uninterested in scoring political points, he’d be opposing Prop. 83. He’d tell voters that no study shows that residency restrictions reduce sex crimes against children. He’d remind them about the risks to kids living in rural areas where sex offenders will be forced to live if Prop. 83 passes, areas with already overburdened police resources.
The practical side of me knows that it really doesn’t matter: I should just complete an arrow, any arrow. Polls show that Schwarzenegger has a comfortable and growing lead as the days left until Nov. 7 rapidly dwindle.
The political side of me is impressed: Who’d have thought that after voters’ resounding rejection of Schwarzenegger-backed propositions in last year’s special election that he would be in a such a commanding position to win re-election today?
Because I take voting very seriously, I’ll weigh Schwarzenegger’s and Angelides’ few pros and numerous cons, give serious consideration to the minor party gubernatorial candidates, and cast a vote. Even if I have to hold my nose, roll my eyes, and shake my head while I do it.