Ahhh, the Thanksgiving commentary column. What a perfect opportunity to
provide some insight on the events of the past year and set the stage for
the political happenings of the next. Or maybe, if you’re cheeky, you can
take some gratuitous potshots at political opponents disguised as an essay
reflecting on the year’s many blessings.
There are so many things to be thankful for this year, such as the
Governor’s wonderful official/campaign advance staff, who never missed an
opportunity to phony up even the most intimate of events, but why dwell on
In the spirit of the season, let’s try and navigate away from the latter.
(With one exception: Thank you President Bush for loaning the Citizens to
Save California one of his top press aides. That Reed Dickens guy was
Because Team Arnold decided to drag the entire political community down into
the swamp in an effort to boost their boss’s ego, it’s safe to say no one
feels like they had a great year. Sure we’re grateful we beat back the
governor’s flawed initiatives, but it wasn’t really an election anybody
wanted. For the Democrats, however, there are still quite a few things to be
thankful for this year.
We give thanks for new alliances. Gov. Schwarzenegger’s decision to declare
all-out war on teachers, nurses, police, firefighters and state employees
brought together a formidable alliance that was unified as never before.
While Schwarzenegger attempted to use his ready access to the media to
demonize the leaders of these groups as uncaring “bosses,” these folks
banded together and fought back to protect the people they serve: students,
patients, victims – basically the general public
Together, the Alliance successfully recast the special election as a fight
between the governor’s big business special interests versus regular people.
If the Alliance remains intact, the governor and his Chamber of Commerce
buddies will have a tough time implementing the anti-worker vision they laid
out this past January. The good news for Democrats is that they should have
an easier time pushing for an increase in the minimum wage and other long
overdue worker safeguards.
We give thanks to the voters for holding Schwarzenegger accountable for his
promises. Earlier this year, the Governor reneged on his campaign promise
not to mess with Proposition 98. We worked with the Education Coalition to
remind people the governor had gone back on his word on this and other
education commitments. The centerpiece of the Schwarzenegger “reform”
agenda, Proposition 76, would have obliterated voter-approved education
funding guarantees. No matter how much air freshener the folks at the
Senator Hotel sprayed around the so-called “Live Within Our Means” act, the
voters smelled a rat from the very beginning. They crushed Prop. 76 and
saved our schools from future raids by this or any future governor.
Education funding was reinforced as a top priority and the governor ignores
this voter mandate at his own peril.
Speaking of voters, we also give thanks for the increased clout of the
Latino electorate. Latino voter participation has been steadily increasing
in California. Fifteen percent of Latino voters turned out to vote in the
2002 California election and eighteen percent turned out nationally for the
2004 cycle. Sadly, we have seen no exit polling for the 2005 special
election, but given the attention, paid and otherwise, from both sides I
expect Latino turnout continued to improve. Right now, this bodes well for
Democrats because Latinos see Schwarzenegger as (lessee