Tuesday, October 25, 2005

CA: Norquist and our 'broken system'

When I notice the Governor blaming Davis or the Democratic Legislature for the 'mess' or the 'broken system', I get really ticked off mostly because I think there's more to the dynamic than just the Dems. Just as bad is his 'reform' as the solution to the 'broken system'. Yeah right. One example too late: now we know 'taking it to the people of Cah-li-for-nia' means putting on a special election for corporate interests at taxpayer expense. Let's not fall for that one again.

As is my wont, I think it's time to shine some light on two strong Norquista influences having a lot to do with our mess/broken system/dysfunction. I won't disagree this mess/broken system/dysfunction exists; my purpose is to call attention to these other elements.

Item One: The Norquist Pledge, which renders bipartisanship a farce.

I first heard about this Pledge from State Senator Sheila Kuehl in a speech she made once. You are kidding, was my short reaction. She said every Republican must sign this Pledge before they run for office as a Republican.

But it's real. Here it is straight from World News and Report, not just in a paper by some obscure partisan academic hack:
This winter, Kentucky State Rep. Stephen Nunn considered doing what would have been unthinkable a decade ago: supporting a tax hike. So, having signed antitax crusader Grover Norquist's "no new taxes" pledge during his 1996 race, Nunn wrote Norquist to rescind the pledge. He quickly discovered that it wouldn't be that easy. Norquist replied by outlining the arduous process for getting off the pledge list maintained by his group, Americans for Tax Reform. Nunn would have to hold a press conference with Norquist--and win re-election on a pro-tax platform. "I do not have the power to release you . . . ," Norquist wrote. "Only your voters can do that."
This threat of the Pledge means there is no room for bipartisanship. Some of you may recall the vividly angry quote by Norquist describing bipartisanship as the equivalent of date rape.

BTW, Sheila Kuehl suggested the way to get around the pledge is to vote in as many Dems as possible everywhere. Excellent point.

As for the Governor's frequent threats about raising taxes if we don't pass 76, well, what a very interesting thing to say. Do you think he'll raise taxes given his pledge to Norquist? Nah. Doubt it. More likely the Governor is misspeaking his talking points again. It would blow my mind if someone asks him to clarify this at a press conference or at a town hall.

Item Two: The 2/3 Majority Vote to pass a tax

Oh, another Norquist coincidence! Well, that's alright because I'm a coincidence theorist.

The 2/3 majority vote happens to be part of another Norquist 50 state agenda (the so-called paycheck deception scheme is another). In fact, they'd like to see a super-majority vote in all the states.

The equation: when you add the Norquist Pledge plus the 2/3 majority vote into the Sacramento equation, you get total legislative gridlock.

So the next time you hear about the "Broken System Needing Reform" refrain from the Governor, remember the Norquista elements: the Pledge and the 50 state campaign to shut down legislatures everywhere. The Governor is painting the problem as being the hapless hopeless Democratic dweebs in the Legislature. For the record, I don't buy into this characterization of our Democratic legislators but, believe me, I know many many many many others who believe this about our Dems in the Legislature. No wonder their popularity is so low.

The Norquista influence has made a difference in California politics. Unfortunate we're not hearing about it.

Even more to the point: if the Governor's initiatives win in California's very Special Election, it will become even more difficult for the real people's voice be heard as the public interest unions become diminished in their voice (esp. Prop. 75 and Prop. 74) and as the Governor gains amazingly scary powers to cut the budget without any adult oversight, which is Prop. 76.

Instead, it'll be government by the Rich People, for the Rich People and by the Rich People after this special election. And, darn, we even paid for this election, hoisted on to us by the Rich People.

If you're ticked off as I am, please get your britches into an Alliance phone bank or join the local California for Democracy office to help get out the vote.

It's a bummer we paid for this corporate election but we might as well show up and vote.