Wednesday, November 08, 2006

What Happened in California?

While we celebrate the news that Nancy Pelosi is now the first woman Speaker of the House in history and she, of course, hails from San Francisco, we must also consider that California, the most populous state in the union, gave a decisive thumbs-up to Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, last night. Schwarzenegger won by a more than 2 to 1 margin proving to be the only Republican governor in the country who can say that. For the first time in years, New York now has a Democrat as governor, and an historic number of Dems have won the national gubernatorial race.

Oh, and lest one think that Ah-nold's victory is an anomaly, consider how the state propositions went. What can only be seen as Republican initiatives, Proposition 83, "Jessica's Law," which increases penalties for "violent and habitual sex offenders," as well as proscribing residence near school and parks, a neo-con dream come true, passed by a more than 2 to 1 margin, Proposition 87, alternative energy bill, which would hold large oil companies fiscally accountable for asthma, and other environmental woes failed despite high profile celebrity endorsements from Al Gore, Warren Beatty, and others, Proposition 85, parental notification failed but was uncomfortably close, a bill to provide more funds to education also failed; lobbyists for big tobacco won out, and Proposition 86, to raise cigarette tax, failed. There was some good news---Proposition 84, which provides for parental notification, failed, and California has greater environmental protection now that Proposition 90 was defeated; also, Jerry Brown, a vocal opponent of the death penalty won the race for attorney-general.

Still, one must ask how it is that, when Democrats swept the Northeast defeating even Rick Santorum, in Pennsylvania, making policy change de rigeur for an administration that has proven itself to be obdurate, and unflinching, that California has, with a few exceptions, approved those propositions near and dear to the oil guzzlers, and conservatives? Can it be that Californians were concerned that Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Phil Angelides, was not only soft, but soft on immigration? Is that the subtext of the California vote? As the governor has amply demonstrated his enthusiasm for using the National Guard to patrol the border between California and Mexico, despite the Feinstein victory in the Senate race, and the ascent of Nancy Pelosi to Speaker of the House, one can't help but think that we, in California, are still in Ronald Reagan country while the rest of the world is watching Bill Maher.