They’re using the term "crazy" to describe what’s going on in California, and maybe it is. But what’s going on in California is too important to dismiss as mere looniness.
We’re talking about a state that in itself is bigger than most foreign countries — a troubled state that just happens to be Arizona’s neighbor.
California has had its share of epic disasters, and the current one, albeit manmade, is a doozy. You don’t shake off a $38 billion budget deficit by cutting a few legislative junkets and skimping on highway litter pickup. A budget deficit of that magnitude shakes a state, or a country, to its fiscal foundations. At the very best, even if the deficit can be overcome, one must rob the future to pay for today.
One man — Gov. Gray Davis — seems to be getting the blame for all this, as if one man had power over all those billions. But that’s what happens when you’re at the top of the heap: If you claim credit for the good times, it’s inevitable you’ll be blamed for bad ones.
So now, just nine months after winning re-election, Davis looks to be on the way out. The vehicle for his demise is a recall election coming up in just two months. And under California law, the candidate who gets the most votes in the election — not necessarily a majority — gets to preside over California’s staggering economic and governmental mess.
It’s a mystery why anyone would want the job, but many do. Most notable among them is Arnold Schwarzenegger, the bodybuilder-actor who in true California style announced his candidacy last week on the "Tonight Show." Also in the fray are porn king Larry Flynt, diminutive actor Gary Coleman, a billboard celebrity who goes by the single name Angelyne, and some real politicians. Kobe Bryant may have thought about it, but he has other business right now.
In just two months, one of these people will have to emerge from the pack and snag more votes than any of the others. With that in mind, it seems like a no-brainer to suggest that Schwarzenegger will, indeed, be the next governor of California. Who are you going to vote for, some drone of a politician or the Terminator?
To say that an actor, simply because he is an actor, is unqualified is not fair, of course. A former actor is believed by many to have done an admirable job of governing the entire United States from 1981 to 1989. And if Schwarzenegger’s career has proven anything, it has proven the guy is no dummy. He sets goals, and reaches them.
Whatever happens in the election, it’s clear that Californians will have to unite behind the winner, bite the fiscal bullet, accept the need for sacrifices and quit demanding that government be all things to all people.
The government can’t be all things to all people. It is a lesson being painfully taught in the Golden State — and one that, as red ink washes the decks of the federal government, needs to be impressed on every American who thinks Uncle Sam, too, is a sugar daddy.