At first glance, the election to recall California Governor Gray Davis in an October election seems to be a mockery of democracy. Anyone with 65 signatures and $3500 can run? Come on.
Others are saying the attempt to recall Davis is just another sinister attempt by the Republicans to overturn elections that didn‘t go their way. The recent examples sited include the impeachment of Bill Clinton for lying about his affair with Monica Lewinsky. Clinton had been elected for two terms and during the time of the scandal still had a near 70% approval rating among Americans.
Also, polls show that 38% of Americans still don‘t think Republican George W. Bush is a legitimate president after U.S. Supreme Court ended the 2000 election process in Florida. A razor-thin majority of justices forced into the presidency a candidate who did not get the most votes.
And now, the Republicans are after Democratic governor, Gray Davis. The principal reason for canning Davis is the budget deficit crises in California. The 2003 shortfall in California of $38 billion is an eye-opener. Davis certainly must shoulder some of the blame but where was the legislature in California while the financial crises was developing - tanning on the beach?
A majority of states in this country including Michigan are battling similar financial challenges. Very few are blaming former Michigan governor Engler for the financial crises that his successor inherited. And what about the Bush administration? The president finally admitted that recent federal tax cuts have contributed significantly to the federal budget deficit.
Let‘s get real. There is plenty of blame to go around for budget deficits besides Gray Davis. If high crimes and misdemeanors are the standard for kicking elected officials out of office, nothing close has occurred in the California governor‘s office.
On the other hand, the recall election may be a good thing overall. In an era where a mediocre 50% turnout is considered excellent for an election in the U.S., Gray Davis‘ recall has captured the imagination of Californians and the rest of the country. Why not let the voters decide whom they want as governor?
This election is an anomaly: every vote potentially makes a huge difference. If Davis is voted out, the next governor may be elected with a very small percentage of the votes - say 10%.
My fearless predictions: Gray Davis is a goner. Gary Coleman, Arianna Huffington, Larry Flynt, and others will liven up the election but have no chance to be governor.
Meet the new chief executive of California - Arnold Schwarzenegger. He is smart and well-connected socially (his wife is a Kennedy and political journalist). Rich enough to buy the election if so chooses, Schwarzenegger also is blessed with the best name recognition of any candidate.
His rags-to-riches story is well known. Emigrating to the U. S. from Austria, Arnold arrived with $20 in his pocket. Astute real estate purchases made him rich before he was famous as a bodybuilder and actor. His tireless work with the Special Olympics and other philanthropic causes is legendary.
Additionally, Arnold‘s moderate Republican views make him a shoo-in for the October election. If he can somehow overcome a serious dearth of political experience, he might just make a good governor, too.