For one thing, two really obnoxious ballot initiatives went down in flames. Another, while I didn't think Davis deserved to be recalled, it wasn't because he was a great governor, merely adequate. That adequacy was severely damaged by this whole process, so I wasn't sure what things would be like if he had survived this attack. He might have been better -- or he might have been really bitter. Essentially a three year lame duck.
Now, the republicans (as a party) lost even before election day -- Issa's involvement only increased the perception that they've become a party of sore losers, desperate to cling to power any way they can. In fact, to do so they had to float so outlandish a candidate that America (and indeed the world) no longer consider Jesse Ventura the silliest office holder of the last 20 years (no insult intended toward Jesse... I *liked* his libertarian-esque style of governing).
When the dust began to settle in 2000 and it looked like The Shrub was going to steal the election, I remember thinking how it was ironic that they were fighting so hard to get a job that would be the target of much of the blame for the recession that was already in full swing. Arnold is stuck with much of the same problem -- He can blame the "previous administration" all he wants, but after a year or so no one will care. I see three possible outcomes:
- He succeeds at solving all of the states problems, perhaps through the judicious commission of satanic fellatio (waits while the inexperienced readers run for dictionaries). Highly unlikely, but certainly a happy ending for California and (by extension) myself and many people I care about.
- He merely managed to maintain the status quo: High budgetary deficits, legislative gridlock, et al. Even moderate success is worse than none in some ways -- it only serves to highlight what still needs to be done.
- He totally screws the pooch and makes things far, far worse.
Now, the latter two items present us with a great target in future elections: Even though no other republicans have won statewide office, all eyes are on the governor's mansion. This was the main reason I was surprised the republican party came anywhere near this turkey -- if they had left well enough alone, the next set of political ads could have pointed out that complete Democratic culpability, especially since Davis had been in office so long. Now, we have this great, big Austrian bull's-eye.
The argument that the Republican's wanted a better position for the '04 elections doesn't wash for the very same reason. For one thing, 13 months from now the honeymoon period will be well and truly over, and residents of the state hoping for nothing short of a miraculous transformation of the state's woes will probably be bitter. If he does anything even remotely reactionary during that time, he'll lose the youth vote that got him into office. Also, remember, he didn't win by a majority... only 48%. That's roughly equivalent to the percentage of people who voted NO on the recall.
It actually makes my head hurt to think of the possible permutations of balloting that resulted in his election, but I'm guessing that a lot of people who voted no, but wanted Schwarzenegger to replace Davis if it passed anyway, could be combined with people who voted yes but wanted another candidate (Bustamonte, I think) to form one hell of a disenfranchised and bitter group. Since the turnout topped 60% of registered voters, that's a frighteningly large group of people.
So, there's item one, the long shot. If Arnold walks on water, turns it to wine, and brings manna from heaven to the under and unemployed tech workers holding "Will Code For Food" signs outside of major corporations that sent their jobs to India to hack on the cheap, how does that bode for the Republican party, or even his political future?
Well, Arnold is a bit of a political wild card. While the party did "support" the candidacy, it was generally understood to be a fairly risk free support. If the recall failed, Arnold would be relatively unscathed and could possibly groomed for a later attempt. Since it's succeeded, the party can take the credit for a governorship... essentially a consolation prize for their complete failure in the previous election.
Yet he presents an ideological challenge to that party: He's actually more of a synthesis of both parties, a republicrat. He is married to Maria Shriver, a Kennedy, which would make for all sorts of influence on his governing style. Even the fact that he's publicly supported medical marihuana is a sign that he's not going to be a Reagan Republican.
I truly believe a lot of the votes he got weren't based on his party affiliation, but on the fact a lot of kids see him as the Terminator. The nice one from T2 and T3. The Last Action Governor.
Michele just called from upstairs. I've already had a night to sleep on this, but she's literally in tears over his election. I'm going to post this so she can either tell me I'm insane, or she'll feel better.