There is more to an election than just the outcome. The process counts too. The dialogue between candidates and the voters. California voters did a lot more than say “Hasta La Vista” to one governor and “Hola!” to another. For one thing, there was plenty of poetic justice.
Schwarzenegger, an immigrant, was attacked for allegedly insensitive opposition to allowing illegal aliens to get drivers’ licenses. This was supposed to hurt him in the Latino community. But doggone it if exit polls didn’t show Latino voters also opposed granting the licenses. Meanwhile, Davis was flip-flopping madly and in vain to gain their support, first vetoing then signing the new law.
There was justice in the fact that Davis, well-known for campaigns where he savaged his opponent, had no opponent but himself in the recall. Still, even Gray Davis sent a great message. His concession speech was in the best tradition of American democracy, as Davis urged those who loved California to accept the verdict. It showed character. I hope the impact of this recall will be felt throughout the country.
Only 17 states have a recall process, and only 24 have some process for voter-sponsored initiatives. California’s process isn’t the perfect model, but citizens should be empowered in every state. After the election, Arnold said, “For the people to win, politics as usual must lose.” Can the people win in your state? Do you have voter recall of officials? Do you have Initiative & Referendum? Well, you should.
This is Common Sense.Â I’m Paul Jacob.