I would be a lousy politician

JULY 9, 2010

There seem to be two types of people today – those who are political junkies and those who successfully tune out and totally ignore everything political.

As a lifelong political junkie, it’s only been in the last year that I understand how and why people tune out politics – and I am jealous.

Rarely have I met with or spoken to a politician who isn’t running for office. And by “running” I mean always in campaign mode.

And by always campaigning, there’s a certain insincerity that infects the meeting or moment.

Talking a politician is like being on a date with someone always looking over your shoulder to see if someone prettier or more important is in the room.

It’s early July and the political races are already heating up for November. Even I am growing weary of the non-stop political advertisements and mailings, and that’s just with gubernatorial candidates Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman. Wait until September when there’s only 60 days left in the campaign.

As a native Californian, I well remember the last reign of Jerry Brown… and it wasn’t pretty. I am closer to age 50 than not, which makes Jerry the same age as my dad… who is retired.

Brown was governor when I was in junior high school, and termed out when I was in college.

Democrat Brown’s antics in office were legendary. Beginning with his refusal to live in the Governor’s Mansion, sleeping on a futon in a sparse downtown apartment, and driving the hideous 1974 Plymouth Satellite, who could forget his famous roller-skating, rocker girlfriend, Linda Ronstadt? The 1970s were strange times indeed.

If you’ve ever wondered why California drivers are so bad, Jerry Brown stopped funding Driver’s Education behind-the-wheel-training in 1981.

Jerry had a radio talk show, made two unsuccessful runs for the presidency, and one for U.S. Senate, was California’s state Democratic Party chairman, served two terms as the mayor of Oakland, and was last elected attorney general. One can only assume that Brown must like campaigning.

Brown’s political record is rather damning as well. As I wrote in Jerry Brown Lore, “As governor, Brown empowered public employee unions, vehemently opposed the death penalty and appointed many judges who also opposed it. Brown decimated plans for Interstate 5 and is the cause of the ‘interstate’ freeway being only two lanes in many crucial locations. He opposed Prop 13, but after voters passed it, he became a politically expeditious supporter. As a presidential candidate, he campaigned on universal health care, ‘Buddhist Economics,’ a ‘living wage’ and even considered Jesse Jackson as a running mate.

More recently, as attorney general, Brown tried to kill the Voter ID ballot initiative by titling it “Limits On Voting Initiative Statute,” and then renamed the “California Jobs Initiative 2010” to the ridiculous title, “Suspends Air Pollution Control Laws Requiring Major Polluters to Report and Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions That Cause Global Warming Until Unemployment Drops Below Specified Level for Full Year.”

But that’s just Jerry, who reads like a quirky trash novel compared to Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, whose novel would be more of a boring textbook on capitalism, with few pictures.

As much of an open book as Jerry Brown is, Meg Whitman is closed. Her resume may be impressive, but her real world experience is so removed from reality, that most regular people seem to resent her.

Whitman’s lame excuse for not registering to vote until she was 46 because she was “busy raising her family and focusing on her husband’s career,” is a textbook example of the spoiled American who refuses to go out of their way to do anything unless it immediately provides some benefit. Apparently, only when Whitman started having her own political aspirations, did voting seem important.

Pinning Whitman down on hard issues is as difficult as pinning Jerry Brown down. Neither candidate seems rooted in any ideology. On gay marriage, Whitman has managed to speak to both sides of the issue. Asked about her position on Proposition 8, Whitman answered that it was a “matter of personal conscience and my faith,” but supports gay civil unions, and thinks that the same-sex marriages that have already take place should be legalized.

So much for social issues. Fiscally, Whitman says she’s not in favor of raising taxes “right now.” Is she leaving the door open for tax increases? Her position is not exactly an affirmative stance.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Whitman claimed that she would not have voted for Proposition 187 in 1994, and said, “I would not have been prepared to strip all of those services away from children,” she said. However, Whitman also said, “schools, hospitals and law enforcement agencies should be required to report undocumented immigrants to federal authorities.”

Accused of buying her way into the Republican Party as well as being a plutocrat, Whitman has spent $75 million of her own money on her campaign. Most people consider that a fortune, but Whitman has plans to spend even more to defeat Jerry Brown in the fall.

Pinning most politicians down on issues is nearly impossible because politicians today are mostly mealy-mouthed types, who will never risk offending anyone or any special interest group. And even thought Brown is a career politician, and Whitman is buying her way into big-time politics, they are no different.

And as someone who seems to regularly offend people with my positions on issues as well as with my written words, I obviously would make a lousy politician.

–Katy Grimes

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