Stateside with Rosalea: Arianna of Troy
By Rosalea Barker
One is tempted to ask if that is a horse's arse one sees entering the gates of Sacramento, doing its business and then skipping gaily off across the horizon. Yes folks, hilarious Arianna Huffington withdrew from the California recall election this week, citing irreconcilable differences between the voters' choices and her ego.
Oops, sorry, no, I got that wrong. She got out of the race, not just because she was going nowhere in the polls but because she doesn't want Arnold Schwarzenegger to win. Well, I don't know what the spirit of elections is in her native Greece, but I had hopes that in the United States it was left up to the voters to decide who won, not the candidates.
If I was a voter in this here election, I'd get the American Civil Liberties Union to represent me in a case against a) the entire California legislature for allowing candidates to withdraw after the voting had begun, and b) any candidate who withdraws after the voting has begun. How many thousands of voters who've already cast their ballot in Huffington's favour have been disenfranchised by shoddy election laws and her ego?
The pollsters know the answer to that question but they're not telling the media, because doing so would open them to the charge that they are influencing the election. As if they haven't influenced it already by showing that Huffington was polling only two percent, thus leading to her decision to drop out. And as if the LA Times didn't influence the outcome of a recent poll by not referring to Bustamante as "Lt. Governor" or McClintock as "State Senator" in its questions. In any horse race most punters want to know what the animals form is.
It's not just the matter of Huffington withdrawing - the first question on the ballot asks if the governor should be recalled, and all the yes or no votes her supporters have already cast on that question will still be counted. It will be interesting to see if the "yes" votes outnumber the "no" votes (or vice versa) by fewer than the number of votes cast for her. And how do we know she's not in cahoots with one of the contenders still in the race?
Well anyway, without Arnold and Arianna dominating it, the final candidate forum on telly yesterday was a pretty tame affair, but revealing. Held in San Diego, it was sponsored by the Union-Tribune, KPBS, San Diego State University and the League of Women Voters. McClintock, Bustamante and Camejo participated. A week ago it seemed that Camejo wouldn't be there because the threshold for participation was set at 5 percent support in recent polls, but the League got that lowered to 3 percent - a move that might open them up to charges that they're not as non-partisan as they say they are.
At about the same time that debate was airing here in the Bay Area, Schwarzenegger was speaking at a rally in one of the local fairgrounds. His tour bus is named 'Predator', which is not the best look for someone having to deal with allegations of sexual misconduct - allegations, Tom McClintock said in the debate, that should be viewed with caution. Like butter wouldn't melt in *his* mouth, right?
Watching this election take shape is like watching a slow-motion movie of a hijacked plane head towards a tall building. The Bay Area is one of the few regions in California that polls show have a majority of voters saying they are against the recall. Governor Gray Davis must wish there were three million African-American PhD's residing here as well, for those are the ethnic and educational groups most opposed to the recall. The reality in the Bay Area, though, is that "children have been to more funerals than graduations," as one local woman was reported saying in a SF Chronicle article about street violence.
One little detail that caught my eye in a recent news item showing Schwarzenegger at a rally, was an African-American woman holding up a big yellow sign that said "Democrats for Schwarzenegger". It caught my eye because all week I'd been thinking about the seven-week old kid who'd died when a ricocheting bullet went through the back of his head at one of the local tenant farms (housing projects). Puts the rich kids' parlour game into focus doesn't it? The infant's name was Glenn Molex III. He was being held by his uncle while his father, Glenn Molex Jr - the target of the shooting - was outside talking to a friend. RIP, little one, and I mean no disrespect by including your name in an article about politicians.
I say don't just beware of Greeks bearing gifts, but also beware of people who are ashamed of their family name. Not only are voters being asked to joinarnold.com, but they're being asked to helptom.com. "Vote your conscience," said State Senator Tom McClintock in his closing remarks at the debate on Saturday. No doubt he was appealing as much to Peter Camejo's Green Party supporters as to Republicans concerned about splitting their vote between Schwarzenegger and McClintock, thereby letting Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante win.
The solution to vote splitting is ranked choice voting. If this were a ranked choice (aka instant runoff) election, the candidates vying to be the next governor of the state of California would have to meet the same criteria that the current governor has to meet in order to keep his job: fifty percent plus one vote. Sounds like a fair share to me.
(As usual, your
one-stop shop for a list of all the candidates in this
election - including their platforms or, at the least, links
to their personal websites - is http://www.smartvoter.org.)