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October 12, 2003
A Winning Strategy in a Fractured State: Unite and Conquer

Steve Lopez, in today's LA Times, nails the recall election in another funny column:

Conservatives eagerly abandoned sacred covenants and joined moderates — and even some liberals, for God's sake — in voting for a serial groper who smoked dope, skipped elections and was a poster boy for Hollywood's gun violence and mayhem.

Who would've thunk it?

Lopez not only notes that, but actually understands what this means for the California electorate:

We're politically polarized beyond caricature, undermining any useful problem-solving, and great hordes of people need to be locked in their rooms.

But as far as anyone can tell so far, Arnold appears to be somewhere in the middle — a fiscal conservative and social moderate. If so, that would put him more in touch with California than Gray Davis, who pumped helium into the state budget, or any of the knuckle-draggers the GOP keeps sending into the game.

And given the way the state Legislature behaves, with raving lunatics on both fringes, it might be altogether fitting to watch lawmakers get their knuckles rapped by the star of "Kindergarten Cop."

The benefit of the recall is not so much to remove a man who was almost universally known to be a complete incompetent (a rent-an-incompetent, at that), but to allow the political center of the electorate to claim control of politics. Thanks to gerrymandering and a number of dirty campaigns, so vividly demonstrated in this last election, the political class is completely polarized, as Lopez states. The primaries inevitably raise up the most stubborn party-line candidates. If, when they get to Sacramento, they try compromise and negotiation, they find that they can't survive the next primary season.

Bypassing the political class and tossing out Gray Davis was the point of the recall, not electing Arnold, who I still think was a poor choice as Governor (but probably the best of the people who ran). Next up should be a ballot initiative creating open primaries so that the political center can ensure that they are represented in the general elections. Let the overhaul begin.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 12, 2003 8:47 AM

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