Arnold Schwarzenegger suffered defeats in the special election

"I'll be back!" I don't think so

Arnold Schwarzenegger got smacked down royally by the voters in yesterday's special election. All the initiatives on the ballot, including the ones sponsored and pushed by Arnold himself, went down to defeat.

After 'Ahnold' won the governor's office in a special recall election, he used his charm and political capital to make good on some of his campaign promises. But then the honeymoon was over, and the reality of having to actually govern a fractious state reasserted itself. Arnold thought he could get around that sticky problem by once again making his pitch "to the people" of Cal-ee-for-nee-ya. It didn't work. The headline of this morning's Los Angeles Times said it all:

LA Times online
Los Angeles (9-Nov-05)

And rightly so. Trying to govern by initiative is just plain wrong and can properly be blamed for many of California's woes. Voters simply should not be trying to solve complex issues reduced to self-serving initiatives promoted or denounced in over-simplified ad campaigns. Initiatives are put on the ballot by people with an agenda and are written artfully to sound like a good deal when in fact the devil is in the details.

For example, I was all ready to vote for Proposition 77 that would have taken redistricting out of the hands of the politicians and put a panel of retired judges in charge of drawing the districts. Incumbents — of all parties — have become very skillful at drawing district lines to include the voters who will re-elect them. This is insane, and it is why so few seats are "competitive" and actually change hands during an election. Breaking up this little insiders' game is essential to getting government back under control. But the details of Prop 77 would have created a nightmare worse than the problem it was supposed to fix.

• The judges on the panel were to be selected by the leaders of the two major parties. That means that the ins would still be in control!

• Each time the panel drew up a redistricting plan it would be used for the next election and subjected to approval by the voters at the same time. If the plan were rejected, the election results would still be valid, but a new panel would create a new plan for the following election. Potentially, election districts could be redrawn after every election! That is hardly an improvement.

Then there are the dueling propositions. Proposition 78 and Proposition 79 were both about the cost of prescription drugs, but one of them was sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry and we know who that would have benefited!

Voters did the only sensible thing: Just say no.

Arnold, like W, has squandered the opportunity given to him. He says he's going to run for governor again in the next election. Perhaps he ought to give that some more thought.