California voters — yes, you and I — have done much to contribute to the state's current quagmire. We've made it hard to pass tax increases, but easier to increase spending. Famously distrustful of government, we've clung to our ballot initiatives, our limits of how long politicians can stay in office and our two-thirds majorities for enacting anything.
Imagine if, in your household, there were a two-thirds vote requirement to make a plan for the next year. Nothing would get done. The juveniles would hold disproportionate power. The grown-ups would have to beg, borrow and steal.
That said, for all our sins, California voters don't deserve the punishment of this year's gubernatorial campaign. I will leave it to historians to determine if this is the least democratic gubernatorial race in state history. All I know is: This is the least appealing choice in many years.
Let us start with Jerry Brown. He scared off all the competition early, such as it was. He has no real campaign platform, and since he faces no rivals in the Democratic primary, he can wait it out until after June. He's running a stealth campaign. In other words, he doesn't want to attract too much attention until he's in a position to massage the message through judicious use of his limited campaign war chest.
Steve Poizner presented himself as a moderate Republican while running for insurance commissioner in 2006, but has since gone through a midlife conversion. Once in the mainstream on immigration reform, he now exploits the issue in an apparent bid to win the xenophobe vote. He once supported the state's global warming law, Assembly Bill 32, but now calls it a "job killer." He's pirouetted so many times it makes my head spin.
And then there is Meg Whitman, or "Queen Meg," as some are calling her. She has a regal aversion to scrutiny. Whitman handpicks her debates and the reporters who can ask her questions. When interacting with the public, she prefers micromanaged town halls where the populace won't stray too far from the script.
The campaigns of Poizner and Brown make my stomach churn, but at least the candidates want to engage. They make themselves available and are more than willing to mix it up. Meg Whitman as governor? She's a savvy business leader who knows how to market herself. Yet based on her campaign to date, she leaves the impression of a cloistered and poll-driven leader.
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