October 7, 2003
"Same Shit, Different Day"
Thoughts on the Cali Recall Election
By WALTER LIPPMANN
Despite efforts by the media to crown him King Arnold the First, it's not over till its over. He has been losing ground since the latest revelations about his admiration for Hitler and his sexual abuses toward women have begun to reach public notice these past days. Today's last minute news reports say that Schwarzenegger has announced he'll discuss the sexual battery allegations AFTER the votes are collected in the election. Why's he holding back?
And while it may not seem of great interest to readers outside the California, the goal of electing Arnold Schwarzenegger is certainly high on the agenda of the Bush administration. The right has shown a greater skill than the left, with all but one of the other candidates on the right withdrawing from the race in obeisance to the media-generated juggernaut in favor of the Terminator.
With voter participation in the US at record lows in recent years, this election has generated more interest than we've previously seen. Much of this is being built by the capitalist media who have made out like bandits selling all of the vicious, hateful political advertising this campaign has generated for them. At the same time, they want a broad public participation in the elections to provide legitimacy for the cutbacks which both the Democrats and the Republicans intend to continue, regardless of who is finally the winner of the recall.
Using this reactionary millionaire's image in the world via his movies to mobilize support for the hard rightist agenda has been a clever move, but we don't know yet if it will finally do the trick. We may not know tomorrow and who knows what the prospects might be, yet another replay of the Florida 2000 election but on a bigger and more grotesque scale? Don't forget this man who uses his image and accent supports the racist English-only movement, backed the racist anti-immigrant Prop. 187.
He also opposes drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants. Another racist aspect of his appeal is the call to tax Indian gambling casinos. (I'm no fan of the casinos, which don't benefit many Indians, but it's an odd thing that so much emphasis has been put here on taking away one of the few things which the native peoples, or at least some of them have finally got.
Schwarzenegger's being followd in the Cuban media. There's a story called, "Schwarzenegger, women and Hitler" which is posted to the Cuban website devoted to what they call "Media terrorism", Cubadebate, (in Spanish).
None of the candidates have taken advantage of one opportunity which was present. Given the distressed state of the economy, more trade with Cuba would be a boon to the California economy. Businesses from California have recently signed a contract to sell fully $10 million dollars worth of commodities to the island.
Far more would be possible if Washington would just get out of the way. $10 million might not sound like a lot on the scale of California, but lots of small firms could make out very well if they had economic links to the island which is anxious to up trade with the US.
Washington's blockade of trade and travel to Cuba is harming California. The California State Senate came out against the blockade, so the idea of expanding the commercial links to the island is entirely reasonable. One candidate has a good record on doing business with Cuba: Peter Camejo. He's got a long record on this:.
The right's dream, via the recall, is to virtually purchase the governorship of a state with the fifth largest economy in the US, and one of the largest in the world. I see it as being similar to the efforts of the rightist opposition in Venezuela to try to throw out the democratically-elected government of of Hugo Chavez. As the T-shirts in Venice, California say: "Same Shit, Different Day".
Arnold and his backers have become desperate to try to discredit the stories of his admiration for Hitler and his sexual abuses of women, so widely reported now. As Peter Camejo has so well pointed out, why would Arnold apologize so profusely if he hadn't done anything wrong?
The LA times quotes Camejo saying "He's a predator,". "If he was a black man, he'd be in a jail. The issue needs to be looked into and resolved." (However, then the Times omitted to mention that Camejo's VERY NEXT WORDS were that if Arnold were brown or poor white he'd have been in jail as well.)
The recall process is one which is a good thing and should be maintained. I've seen certain positive features which have come as a result of the recall. Among these have been the ability to have truly independent and alternative voices, such as those of the Greens' Peter Camejo, putting forth a profoundly different and left-alternative approach to politics, out into the broad public arena. This has been excellent.
In the end although I've wavered a bit, I finally decided to vote against THIS recall. At the same time, I'm voting FOR Peter Camejo for the replacement in the event that Gray Davis should be recalled. One of the byproducts of this election has been the broadening out of discussion to a large range of views than that of the same old two- party shell game we normally have. Hopefully that will remain for the future. My sense is that it will remain and this has been a fine beginning.
There's no way to tell right now how the election's going to go. My thought and hope is that the recall is defeated by a small but quite adequate margin, and that Camejo gets a shockingly large vote, coming in as much as 5th in the replacement race. If those happen, Gray Davis in the balance of his term would be politically weakened. Since the recall, he has signed progressive measures such as the driver's license and domestic partnerships bills, which he had not supported prior to the recall. Getting Peter's name and ideas known far and wide is one of the best outcomes of the race.
(I'm aware that my view on the recall differs from Peter's view. He always points out that the Greens are divided on recall, but he personally is in favor of it. Still, this is my considered opinion..)
Walter Lippmann is the Moderator of the CubaNews list. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CubaNews/