Tuesday, October 14, 2003

What happened in California. 

I am beyond words, or maybe short of them, to explain what happened in California. But I'll try anyway. I'm hoping what happened had much more to do with the power of the personality of Schwarzenegger, but as soon as I say that, I also know I am lying to myself.

Californians, the ones who voted for Schwarzenegger, were no more informed of the origin of the economic problems there, than my neighbor's poodle. Otherwise, they would not have voted for a republican who met with Ken Lay and other enronites to plot to take over the energy market there, through deregulation, and set their inflated prices. This takeover was successfull, at least temporarily, by-the-way, causing shortages of electricity and blackouts and just plain hell.

It was so successful, that Arnold wants to do it again.
Can you think of a single Enron executive who has been prosecuted for his crimes against the people? Not a single one, yet.

This California nightmare was a collision between the power of Arnold's personality, anger and voter helplessness over the economic near-collapse of the country, including the shrinking money resources of California. Top it with voters being ill-informed over causes of shrinking California resources, which has more to do with the policies of President George Bush. Somehow Californians seem to neatly slice Bush out of this equation, laying the blame squarely at the feet of a democratic governor and the democratic legislature. The democratic party would not have been so vulnerable to this charge if there wasn't an element of truth to it. Like Arnold said, "Where's there's smoke, there's fire".

This election is a wake-up call to the Democratic party in California and the nation. More than any other lesson, this is the one that ought to be heeded.
The democratic party is vulnerable if its interests are obviously tied to special interests. Perhaps we are seen by voters as the saviors of the people, as the party of the people, so more is expected of us, while Republicans get away with murder. So be it. Let's be the party of the people, and watch the people come to us in swarms.

The Democratic Pary, clean up your house, please. You are all we the people have right now. Americans just aren't ready to vote Green yet.

The Schwarzenegger election might be a trend, but I have this feeling that he will eventually be seen as the George Bush in Schwarzenegger/clothing that he is. As he begins to screw the California economy to help a few of his rich cronies become even richer, the people of California will have a change of heart and realize the quality of the facism they elected. Of course, I'm trying to read the future here, and I have no proof this is going to happen, just a feeling.

Read for yourself Mike Taylor, and what he calls California's Day of the Locust, and goddess help California and the rest of this nation, because there is a brown shirt with a swastika on his sleeve lurking in the shadows:

Yet, I don't want to suggest that this is a simple repeat of anti-immigrant Proposition 187 in the context of a recession and a nationwide crisis of state financing. Arnold Schwarzenegger does add something genuinely novel to the mix. He is not just another actor in politics but an extraordinary lightning rod, both in his movie persona and in real life, for dark, sexualized fantasies about omnipotence.

Pleasure in the humiliation of others -- Schwarzenegger's lifelong compulsion -- is the textbook definition of sadism. It is also the daily ration of right-wing hate radio. As governor he becomes the summation of all smaller sadisms, like those of Roger Hedgecock that in turn manipulate the "reptile within" of millions of outwardly affluent but inwardly tormented commuter-consumers. In their majesty, the predominantly white voters of California's inland empires and gated suburbs have anointed a clinically Hitlerite personality as their personal savior.

The last word about all this should, of course, belong to Nathanael West. In his classic novel The Day of the Locust (1939), he clearly foresaw that fandom was an incipient version of fascism. On the edge of Hollywood's neon plains, he envisioned the unassuageable hungers of California's petty bourgeoisie.

"They were savage and bitter, especially the middle-aged and the old . . . Their boredom becomes more and more terrible. They realize they've been tricked and burn with resentment. .. Nothing can ever be violent enough to make taut their slack minds and bodies."