Is California Ungovernable?

by Katy Grimes | November 3, 2010 2:44 pm

NOV. 3, 2010

I jokingly referred earlier in the week to Meg Whitman’s campaign as the worst campaign ever. Now I’m not joking. And while I am sure it’s not the worst ever, it was really bad.

Running against former California Governor Jerry Brown should have been a slam dunk. Instead Whitman ran on the fence, trying to appeal to everyone, about every issue… and she came off appearing to stand for nothing.

Whitman could and should have run as the anti-Arnold, expecially when the Governator refused to endorse her. She could have very simply run as anti-Washington, D.C. by asking voters if we wanted California to end up looking like President Barrack Obama’s Washington.

But she didn’t, and frankly, she didn’t even run against Jerry Brown.

By election night, voters still had no idea who Meg Whitman was. Instead of connecting with her on any level, people who had never met her told me that she is “cold,” “mean” and “cruel.” Women didn’t like her. Ditto men union employees, teachers, liberals, conservatives and even the California Republican party, which didn’t exactly did not go out on a limb to support her.

Whitman talked often during her campaign of her “spine of steel” and her disinterest in whether she was liked. “If you have a huge need to be liked, if you have a huge need to be popular, I think in the near term this is a very bad job for you,” she said.

Whitman is not the first big company executive to think business experience neatly translated into political success. No, the road to California’s Capitol is paved with the broken bodies of business men and women – which is why the successful business-to-politics candidates usually start small by running for city or county seats. Or by voting.

But one of the most disturbing issues during Whitman’s campaign was that during press interviews Whitman’s “people” would interrupt her answers to reporters’ questions. It was clear from the beginning of her campaign that Whitman was not driving the campaign bus.

And that’s one of the many reasons she lost. California voters made clear that they did not want Whitman’s consultants running the show in the state (or for that matter, ever working again in California). But will anyone in the Republican party listen?

Voters were looking for a leader, now said to be ungovernable. But I do not believe California is ungovernable. And the next two years will prove it.

With big national wins, any successes the Republicans have will be felt, even in California. If Congress is successful at cutting taxes, California wins. If Obamacare is rolled back or repealed, California wins. If strict environmental regulations are modified, or cap and trade is tabled for the next few years, California wins.

While California is a mess – and there’s no doubt that the state is in a heap of trouble – if Republicans in Congress make headway in shrinking government, California wins.

But it’s a really big “if.” The flip side of this scenario is that California politicians will likely thumb their collective noses at the rest of the country and forge ahead with their liberal social and economic agendas. They’ll finish implementing California’s global warming law, AB 32, and state-mandated and funded health care, as well as new tax and fee increases, increased strict environmental regulations and government ‘redevelopment” schemes that will only lead to more Californians fleeing the state, which will further erode the tax base.

Ironically, this comes at a time when the debt-drowning United Kingdom is cutting spending by 20 percent and will eliminate nearly 500,000 government jobs by 2015. Germany has reined in unnecessary spending and now their economy is booming. Unemployment there is down to 7.5 percent, while America’s hovers around 9.6 percent (it’s still 12  to 13 percent in California).

If anything needs fixing, it’s the decision making coming out of the Republican party , save for only a few reasonable voices. The  arrogance, abuse, waste and insider party cronyism epitomizes just how out of touch the party leadership is with the voter base.

California is not ungovernable, but the Republican Party just proved that it is sorely unfit to take up the task of trying to govern. The time is ripe for a leadership change, which would make the California Republican Party the party of “yes” once again.

– Katy Grimes

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