October 9, 2003

The Recall was a sort of "Open Primary"

Robert Novak thinks California Dems could be in trouble if the recall leads to a moderate California Republican Party...

....The decisive element of the recall election was the breaking of a vicious cycle that seemed to doom the California Republican Party to perpetual defeat. The model was the 2002 GOP primary for governor, where the party's conservative base rejected two candidates who could have defeated an unpopular Davis and nominated one who could not.

California never has been solidly conservative, and its electorate is less conservative than ever. Even Ronald Reagan as governor signed a bill to legalize abortion and was open-minded on homosexual rights. The decline of Caucasian voters into minority status and the continuing influx of Latinos created Democratic pretensions of inviolability and sent Republicans into a slough of despair.

The recall mechanism resolved the Republican dilemma by effectively nominating a candidate without a primary election. Schwarzenegger, who as a young body builder wore a Milton Friedman "Free to Choose" T-shirt during workouts, came across to voters as an economic libertarian conservative who is pro-choice and pro-gay rights. That model spells big trouble for Democrats.... (via Betsy Newmark)

Trouble, but only if you think that being an overwhelmingly strong party and controlling everything is a good position to be in. But of course it's not. One-party government always leads to abuses and corruption.

The Democrats are the problem right now in California, but they probably wouldn't be if we had a more effective Republican organization. One that was generating strong candidates who could call the Dems on their misdeeds.

People like to sneer at the recall, but it is remarkable how it zeroed in on one of (perhaps the) basic problem in Calif politics--the inability of Republican primaries to produce candidates that can win. In operation, the recall was something rather like an open primary--the kind where people can vote for either party. And a lot of Dems voted for a moderate Republican. It may be just a fluke, but it's interesting...

And it is also interesting that people seem to have been very serious and thoughtful about this. At least in the conservative circles that I'm attuned to, there was lots of real debate and soul-searching about Schwarzenegger vs McClintock. And the Recall never was a "circus." It focused from the beginning on the few serious candidates, quickly narrowed the choices to the best of them...(Or, in the case of the Dems, to the most prominent incumbents.)

And I'm perfectly aware that my comment on the evils of one-party government has implications, on the national level, for the Republicans, assuming the Democrats continue to do what looks rather like self-destructing to me...That seems pleasing at the moment, but is bad for us in the long run.

A Milton Friedman "Free to Choose" T-shirt...where do I get one of those?

Posted by John Weidner at October 9, 2003 7:02 PM
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