All right. It�s official. We

by francine Hardaway on October 8, 2003

All right. It�s official. We have given up our rights to be a democracy. As Jefferson (I think) said, a democracy requires an educated electorate. We don�t have one.

Don�t get me started on the state of the education system. But I believe that�s the real culprit in yesterday�s election in California. Pissed off voters elected a body-building, girl-groping rich man without a shred of government experience to the Governor�s Mansion. What exactly do they think they accomplished by doing this?

Arnold, according to his acceptance speech, thinks he is going to be the people�s Governor. He says he will reach out to everyone. That�s after a career or defining himself as different and special, and living in splendid, movie-star isolation.

Everything he says sounds like it�s part of a blockbuster movie script about a political campaign. His speeches sound like they were written by a mediocre TV writer. During the campaign, I often got the feeling that he didn�t even know what he was talking about; he rehearsed and memorized the lines, but they were in another language.

I doubt that he has spent much time in Sacramento, a hot, unglamorous city where the government of California lives. It will be interesting to see where he resides as Governor: can he commute from Malibu? Certainly not on California�s freeways, where everyone else is caught in the absurd traffic. He�ll have to fly in a private jet, the way all the rich people avoid what has happened to ordinary air travel.

Why did Californians elect him? Because they hated Gray Davis and they didn�t know anything about any of the other candidates. Because they don�t know how to vote.

No one in America really follows politics anymore. They only follow the mass media, and its views of politics. �I�m mad as hell and I won�t take it anymore� is actually a line from a movie. So when they are angry at the incumbent, they elect a Jesse Ventura, an Arnold Schwarzenegger. When things don�t get any better, they will turn on him, too. Because an uneducated electorate just elected an uneducated leader.

The Shorenstein Center did a study called �The Vanishing Voter,� which was published as a book in 2002. The book showed that from 1960 to 2000, voter turnout decreased steadily, as Americans lost the tradition of civic involvement. That�s because we lived in a largely peaceful world in which the economy, with the exception of the real estate crisis in the late �80s, was good.

Suddenly, in 2001, the economy turned sour, especially in California. Jobs and people fled the state. A generation of uninvolved, inexperienced voters looked around for a scapegoat. Ahhh, it must be the Governor. Armed with little information about what powers the Governor of California actually possesses to affect its economy, and less about how long-term trends produce consequences that are controlled by forces way outside the state of California, the mob decides to vote for a recall.

I believe that many voters thought a recall would be fun � kind of like charging the goal posts after a football game. They also thought that voting for The Terminator would be fun: let�s put a guy in office who can kick some ass.

That�s cool. It�s our right. The only problem is that it�s irrational, and it solves nothing. Even George W. Bush knows that an angry mob is not Republican or Democrat, it is merely angry. It will turn on everyone. The electorate is Montecore. Someone tapped it on the nose with a microphone, and it went wild.

Imagine being an Iraqi or an Afghani at this moment. Your country has been disrupted and wasted by Americans who came in to �liberate� you and share their great democratic tradition with you. Your leader, dictatorial but at least experienced, has been overthrown, and there�s a vacuum. Then you hear that America has elected a movie star to be governor of the ninth largest economy in the world. And you wonder: �will they send Ben Affleck to run our country? Or should we request Denzel Washington?�

Michael Moore (�Bowling for Columbine�) will have a field day with this election. He�s probably sitting in his room right now wondering whether it should be a book or a movie.

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