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Bob Chandra - Contributor

Bob Chandra is a Bay Area Republican activist. He was involved as a strategist for Linda Rae Hermann's campaign against Mike Honda for California's 15th congressional district, and he currently serves as a commissioner for the Saratoga library. [Chandra index]

Voter Revolt Goes On...
One down, a lot to go...
[Bob Chandra] 10/18/03

The landslide victory of Arnold Schwarzenegger in California should have sent a clear message to state legislators: "Quit the petty partisanship and get work done for the people." The recall passed by double digits and Arnold was elected over his Democrat opponent by 17 points - a massive margin. If that doesn't give him a mandate, it's not clear what would. Californians are expecting Arnold to usher in a fresh brand of politics that puts the people first. And they're expecting that the legislature will work with him. Unfortunately, many Democrat legislators have failed to hear that message.

The governor-elect struck a conciliatory note with his acceptance speech, pledging to be the governor of all the people and stating, "I will call all the leaders of the Legislature, both Democrats and Republicans, and I will let them know that my door will always be open. That I want to work with them together for the good of California." While Arnold extended an olive branch, the Democrat legislators would have none of it. Democrat State Senator Shiela Kuehl (D-Santa Monica) said about Arnold's upcoming 'State of the State' address, "I don't know if everybody is going to go to the State of the State because frankly I don't think there is going to be a lot of content that anyone's interested in. What's this guy got to say to us about the state of the state? Nothing." So much for bipartisanship. So much for putting the interests of the people before partisan strife.

And that's not all. Democrat State Senator John Vasconcellos (D-San Jose) demonstrated the statesman-like qualities that Sacramento Democrats are known for by calling Schwarzenegger "a boob". Worse, he mocked the decision of California voters and said they had "made a mistake". His Democrat colleague Kuehl claimed that she must "save the state from ignorance". The message of political elites like Vasconcellos and Kuehl is clear: the Democrat elites know what's best and California voters simply cannot be trusted.

But for sheer sleaziness, Democrat assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) takes the cake. Rather than pledging to work with the governor-elect, Leno said he would introduce a bill named "Arnold's Law" to increase the punishment for sexual battery in the workplace. Never mind that there is not one iota of proof that Arnold committed sexual battery. While these appear to be the shenanigans of children, these are unfortunately the actions of our representatives in state government. Californians put these kinds of career politicians on notice with the recall of Gray Davis. It was meant to put an end to "puke politics" and elitism. It was a clear message that "politics as usual" had to end. But given their language, Sacramento Democrats haven't taken the hint. They have gone right back to their usual tactics of smearing their opponents and insulting the will of the people.

A key driver of the recall was voter anger over Gray Davis's tripling of the car tax. Arnold has made rescinding that tax increase a first priority in office. However, leftists within the state finance department are already claiming they'll fight the governor-elect over the issue. And Democrat State Senate leader John Burton is shaping up to be the chief obstructionist in the legislature. About the car tax, he has said, "There is not going to be any backfill from the state of California to local government for any cuts in the VLF (Vehicle License Fee) because we do not have the money." Translation: "Over my dead body".

The people have voted for change. But that hasn't gotten through to Sacramento Democrats. Led by the crusty, difficult Burton, the state Democrats may well suffer the same fate of Gray Davis if their antagonistic, obstructionist language translates into obstructionist behavior. Sacramento Democrats appear tone-deaf and eager to give us one thing: gridlock. In 2004, voters go back to the polls. And with the recall under their belt, they are confident of their own power to reshape the political landscape. Democrat State Senator Vasconcellos said recently, "If people want this actor to govern ... they don't need or deserve me." He's absolutely right. Californians deserve much better.

copyright 2003 Bob Chandra



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