Thanks to a 10-day long internet outage at home, this got posted late. Earthlink sucks.
Well, it’s finally over. The 2006 Democratic Star Trek/Wars/Gate Convention is done, the myriad of tchotchkes, stickers, and campaign sundries are in the dustbin of history, and everyone’s going home…some happy, some sad, and some who were just happy to get all the free “stuff” at the convention.
But the unreality of the event was truly that of a Comi-Con or Star Trek convention, because for all the hype and shenanigans inside the convention, and all the fiercely passionate run ins between rival campaigns, the fact is very few actual voters know who most of the people on the June ballot are, much less who they’d actually like to see in office.
In the end, the passionate fights between the two titans of the Democratic ticket, Steve Westly and Phil Angelides, came off more like the never-ending debates of lore: Kirk Vs. Picard, Star Wars 77-82 vs Star Wars Prequels, or that big debate over Silver Surfer from a few years ago. Lots of noise and hype, but most people on the outside don’t really know what these folks are talking about. But if you dare say you’re not that interested in their cause or candidate, people look at you like you just committed a war crime.
Two other things struck me about this convention that kept the unreal feeling in the convention hall – the almost unanimous silence amongs Big Party Hacks and Politicos about the May 1st rallies, and the fact that term limits has been an abysmal failure at getting “new citizen politicians” into office, which we were constantly promised.
Sure, Steve Westly could play “Oye Como Va” when he got on stage and discuss his wife’s immigration at age 5 to the US, but you didn’t hear him say the words “May 1st” anytime in front of the cameras. Phil Angelides, when asked if people should walk off the job, gave a non-answer answer. You’d think that with millions of people taking time off work to demonstrate about ANY issue might warrant some mention, but I guess the consultants were too busy being scared to figure out what to say, and the politicos were simply not used to something happening that was a true surprise. I’m sure their pollsters and predictors didn’t predict this wave of activity a year ago.
But most of all, this convention was a living example of why term limits are a total failure. Instead of pushing the career politicians out of office, and replacing them with some mythical “citizen politcker” who would serve a few years, then go home, we have a mess of people running for office, and before they’re done with one job, jumping to go get another.
It’s bad enough when we have musical chairs at the statewide level – but the statewide electorate keeps the pols and their shenanigans at bay. At the state Senate and Assembly level, multiple open seat races turned many of these caucuses into some nasty death-cage matches. The joke being, of course that the voting delegates for this convention were picked by party insiders, politicians, politickers, and apparatchiks some time ago, so really, there were no big surprises as to the outcomes of caucuses.
Sure, some put up some token resistance in the form of petitions presented to delegates, but after some of those efforts (usually by the super-lefty types) were so over-the-top insane, by late evening such efforts dissipated. A true moment of hilarity – zealous petition pushers for candidates who were hitting up the scores of formal attired highschoolers at the center for the prom. The geeks and the popular kids clashed but the highschoolers played it cool.
A newcomer candidate such as Janet Reilly or Steve Westly or any one of a number of Democratic hopefuls new to politics who were not the pick of People Who Go To These Things All The Time was bound to have problems, policies and positions be damned. Never doubt the sense of entitlement Democratic incumbents and their supporters have when they’re jockeying for a new job. And never doubt how many nasty tricks they can pull – even when they are totally unneeded.
Anyone looking for a defining moment in the history of California politics was disappointed by the proceedings. But anyone looking for convention intrigue, geek style, had plenty to take in. If they were looking for much of their Democratic legislative leadership, they were not to be found, as they were all at Pebble Beach courting large donors.
But that’s a story no one seemed to want to talk about. Odd. Oh well!