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Doug Gamble- Contributor

Doug Gamble is a former writer for President Ronald Reagan and resides in Carmel.

Democrats in Denial
The party refuses to admit its failed policies led directly to recall wipeout
[Doug Gamble] 10/15/03

In a speech during his re-election campaign in 1984, President Ronald Reagan raised the ire of Democrats and the liberal media with the line, "The Democratic leadership has moved so far left, it's left America."

If a similar observation can be made today about how far left the California party has moved, it is somewhere out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, probably surrounded by whales carrying signs saying, "Save the Democrats." And if they don't find a lifeboat back to shore, they can not only forget about recapturing the governor's office in 2006, they may also lose seats in the Legislature as well.

Will the Democrats "get it"? Probably not. As William F. Buckley Jr. once said, there is no one as self-righteous as a self-righteous liberal, and it is because liberals believe they are always right, always smarter than everyone else and always standing on higher moral ground, they usually refuse to learn from defeat.

For example, rather than trying to recognize why Californians so enthusiastically embraced Arnold Schwarzenegger in the recall election, state Sen. John Vasconcellos, a San Jose Democrat, dismissed the results as a mistake by voters - similar to ABC News anchor Peter Jennings referring to the 1994 GOP capture of Congress as a voter tantrum - and dismissed the governor-elect as a "boob." Apparently that's what passes for post-election analysis in a party that refuses to entertain the possibility that its policies have failed.

There were two elements of the recall election and its aftermath that were reminiscent of Democratic arrogance in presidential campaigns of the 1980s. First, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante followed in 1984 Democratic candidate Walter Mondale's footsteps by promising to deliver a tax increase and was similarly rejected by voters. And second, the comment by Senate President Pro Tem John Burton that Schwarzenegger will "learn this isn't make-believe. They're firing real bullets," sounded like House Speaker Tip O'Neill's condescending admonition to the newly elected Reagan in 1980 that he was in the major leagues now.

A typical liberal, Bustamante apparently believed the voters would willingly take their medicine and support a tax hike simply because he said it was necessary. This after a majority of voters even in liberal California recognized that the Democrats had turned the state into an economic and social Canada, on its way to Sweden. But because liberals believe only they know the way and voters are idiots, Bustamante will probably never understand why his "tough love" didn't sell.

And if Burton continues to disparage and underestimate Schwarzenegger, Republicans can look forward to even brighter days ahead. His shrewdness, charisma, determination to succeed and communications skills make him an opponent unlike any Republican Burton has faced before. With a genuine star in the governor's office, the media spotlight will shine brightly on state politics, all the better for Schwarzenegger to go over the heads of the Legislature and take his case directly to the people.

Sanctimonious California liberals have been getting away with moving the state leftward for years, but finally made the mistake of not recognizing when enough was enough. Blinded with their heads in the clouds of perceived superiority, they failed to comprehend a voter revolt against such pandering as driver's licenses for illegal immigrants, fat pay raises for politically involved prison guards and increases in public employees' pensions, and such outrages as the tripling of the car tax, greedy and unethical fund-raising, runaway spending and regulating businesses right out of the state.

Liberals who are supposed to be smarter than everyone else should have spotted the day of reckoning coming when polls showed that if state Sen. Tom McClintock were the only Republican on the ballot, he would defeat Bustamante. With apologies to the mudslingers who failed to bring Schwarzenegger down in the waning days of the campaign, the results of the recall election leave the Democrats groping for answers.

Doug Gamble has written for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush and other prominent Republicans.

Copyright 2003 Doug Gamble




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