Alex's Outlook

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Davis Terminated; Arnold's Mandate

Liberals at the American Prospect and the Nation were celebrating as recently as 2001 the Democrats' one-party control of California. America's largest and formerly most conservative state had become a bastion of liberalism and a "laboratory" of progressive economics, a new city on the hill.

Two years later, that dream has been forgotten amid the wreckage of the California recall. The final results are in, with the recall winning 55-45 - not as lopsided as previously forecast - but Schwarzenegger winning over 48 percent of the vote. In an election of 135 candidates, and another major candidate from his own party, Schwarzenegger's victory comes as close as anything to a mandate; he and McClintock combined for 61 percent of the vote, compared to Bustamante and Camejo's paltry 35 percent. Not much chance of challenging that in court.

Given the solid Democratic majorities in both houses, Arnold has an enormous, but not impossible, task ahead of him. If he succeeds in bringing California's budget back into balance without raising taxes, he will be more than just the hero of his state. He will be the wildly popular governor of the most populous state in the union. He will be an unstoppable Presidential contender. Sen. Orrin Hatch is pushing a constitutional amendment whereby any foreign-born American who has lived in the US for twenty years or more - like Arnold - can become president.

Balancing the budget will be only the beginning of Arnold's problems, though. The Democrats, even as the hour of the recall approached, rammed one of the most liberal agendas ever across Gray Davis' desk. By far the most damaging bill was a health-care mandate, which will force even more businesses out of California. That should be terminated immediately. Only after Davis' regulations are rolled back will businesses return and California's budget woes end.

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