California Democrats should take a lesson from the Massachusetts’ Scott Brown affair. Complacency is not an option. Neither is sitting out the November election. The fact that Barack Obama is not on the ballot is not an excuse for Democratic voters not to participate. Meg Whitman is a calamity in the making and I will explain why below the fold.
Many will be quick to point out that California’s real problem is a gridlocked State Assembly and State Senate with hidebound Republicans that won’t raise taxes and hidebound Democrats that won’t cut programs, especially social services. The problem is slightly more complicated, however. Past Republican governors, the present one included, have shown minimal leadership, and by doing so, have enabled the obstructive tendencies of the seemingly-permanent Republican minorities in Sacramento, when what they really need is a good kick in the ass. Pete Wilson, like George Deukmejian before him, was in the back pocket of Big Agriculture and Big Finance, and had little, if any interest in California’s crumbling infrastructure, education system, and eroding social fabric. During their respective watches, prison populations swelled, but that’s a whole ‘nuther story. Both Wilson and Deukmejian were decidedly anti-labor in a manner reminiscent of Dust-Bowl-Era, strike-busting Governor Frank Merriam. The oppressive climate during Merriam’s tenure led to the banning and burning, in Kern County, of John Steinbeck’s 20th-Century classic, "The Grapes of Wrath." But I digress...
To put the impact of California’s most recent Republican governors in its proper perspective it is important to remember that both Wilson and Deukmejian were the political progeny of Ronald Reagan, California’s 33rd Governor. Reagan liked to talk the talk when it came to the subject of illegal aliens, but under pressure from his corporate masters over at Big Ag, Reagan reached an understanding with INS that would ensure a steady stream of cheap labor to work the fields of the Central, Salinas, and Imperial Valleys. Reagan was no friend of labor then, and later during his presidency, when his singular act of firing striking air traffic controllers, rather than consider their legitimate grievances, handed the American labor movement its worst defeat in decades.
Where am I going with this you ask? Meg Whitman, the likely Republican candidate in the California gubernatorial race this year, appears to be cut out of the same ideological cloth as Wilson, Deukmejian, and yes, Ronald Reagan. Same shit, different day, as they say. Bear in mid that she cannot do anything without the cooperation of the Democratic majorities in Sacramento. But in order to deliver tax cuts to the wealthiest Californians and to the corporate infrastructure, as promised, she will need to force cuts to both education and social programs. Sound familiar? It is very likely that she will back "Girly-Man" Sacramento Democrats into a corner, as Arnold has effectively done at times, and thereby gain concessions. She will likely play the immigration card, albeit "politely," and claim that California taxpayers should not foot the bill for illegal aliens, all the while winking at her Del Monte benefactors. She will push for re-districting in an attempt to erode the Democratic dominance in Sacramento that has been a bulwark against corporate hegemony and abandonment of the State’s traditional social safety-net.
Maybe Meg Whitman is the "wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing" that Carly Fiorina is accusing Tom Campbell of being.