Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Gubernatorial Debate, or lack thereof

Whatever it was that we witnessed today, it should be noted that it was most certainly NOT a debate. A debate is defined as a formal method of argument between two or more parties. The only part of this loose definition that we saw today was the presence of two of more parties, five to be exact. What today's event lacked, however, was any sort of competition between the gubernatorial candidates for the hearts and minds of the audience.

Senior statesman, Jerry Brown, was the most impressive of the lot, clarifying his plans for the economic recovery of California. His complex and all-encompassing fiscal agenda includes public work projects to broaden the green energy industry in our state, which would both decrease our dependence on foreign oil as well as put hundreds of thousands of Californians back to work. Brown also voiced strong opposition to Prop. 23 which he called criminal, and described as an attempt by big oil to increase its profit margin at the detriment of our environment. In addition, he reaffirmed his opinion that Prop. 8 passed in 2008 was unjust saying that limiting marriage rights is "not the government's job" and "personal liberties of all people should be upheld." As unpopular to his base as it might be, Brown even clarified his stance on Prop. 19. He made it very clear that he is not against the future decriminalization and even legalization of marijuana, but he called the current proposition "very poorly written". He claimed that it would grant every district in California the power to write and enforce its own legislation in regards to marijuana. Brown also stated his solidarity with the growing population of Mexican immigrants who "came to California to seek the American Dream", saying he absolutely supports an accessible path to citizenship for this essential element of our economy.

Republican candidate, and political outsider, Meg Whitman expressed a very different opinion about the right way to revitalize California's devastated economy. She claimed that it is "not the government's business to create jobs" and asserted an interest in cutting factory taxes in order to give California a more favorable business climate. Contrary to her only major opponent, Jerry Brown, she voiced her support for Prop. 23 saying that "now is not the time" to worry about the environment. Whitman also made plain her stance on abortion which seems not unlike those of most of her opponents. She said that abortions should only be allowed in very specific cases such as rape or incest, and that parental notification and permission should be required before the procedure can take place. Unlike most of her opponents, however, she voiced a strong support for Prop. 8 and the "sacred characteristics of marriage" that it supposedly protects. As if it made her opinion any less ignorant or bigoted, she also reaffirmed a support of civil unions for same-sex couples.
Laura Wells, the Green Party candidate, did an excellent job of highlighting the differences between her party's platform and that of her fellow liberal candidate, Jerry Brown. She made it clear that she and her party stand firmly in support of Prop. 19 which would both decriminalize the victimless crime of smoking marijuana, as well as yield California a new and enormous source of tax revenue. Wells's positions on Prop. 23, Prop. 8, and the issue of abortion differed little from Brown's. She called Prop. 8 "an abomination" and in opposition to Prop. 23 even added an anecdote of a young boy suffering from asthma caused by the pollution emitted from factories in Huntington Beach. In support of a woman's right to choose, she said that forcing a woman to give birth to an unwanted baby would not give the baby a healthy or loving environment to grow up in.

Perhaps the least impressive of the candidates was Chuck DeVore of the new and controversial Tea Party. He stated that the legalization of marijuana would cause the number of automobile accidents to double, a claim that is both unfounded as well as proven absolutely incorrect by several studies done by the federal government of New Zealand as well as the Stanford University science department Both organizations independently found "no correlation between marijuana consumption and an increase in automobile accidents." In addition, he isolated himself from the other more moderate candidates by asserting the radical opposition to a woman's right to have an abortion under any circumstance. One of the only redeeming qualities, whether consistent with his party's position or not, was DeVore's surprising support for gay marriage.

Little known candidate from the Libertarian Party, Dale Ogden, was very impressive in rhetoric if not in supplying pragmatic solutions for California's many and very real problems. Similarly to Whitman, he asserted a firm support for less government regulation of corporations and an interest in transforming California's business climate to one comparable to that of Texas. He even went as far as stating his intention to utilize the rarely used line-item veto which would allow him as governor to unilaterally abolish any legislation he felt was detrimental to the health and success of California's private sector. Ogden remained consistent with his party's underlying purpose of pushing for less government across the board by also reaffirming his support for gay marriage, a woman's right to choose, and the legalization of marijuana. He poignantly called the repeal of Prop. 8 a "step toward freedom" and eloquently stated that "if the military can support openly gay troops, then California can support gay marriage". In regards to abortions, Ogden stated that they should "safe, rare, and legal", reaffirming his support for the policy yielded by the supreme court case Roe V. Wade. Regarding the legalization of marijuana, he called its consumption a "victimless crime" and recognized the sizable amount of tax revenue it could produce. In addition to his positions on gay marriage, abortion, and marijuana legislation, Ogden also agreed with his liberal opponents on the illegal immigration issue. He went as far as calling California's current immigration policy "inhumane and disgusting" and voiced a clear approval for "amnesty and citizenship" for these workers. Unlike his liberal opponents, however, Ogden proclaimed his support for Prop. 23. He declared that the restrictions it placed on business and commerce were unjustifiable.

Whether it was because the candidates know that they're unlikely to sway any audience members-who have already committed much time and effort to their own party-or simply because of a general squeamish unwillingness to single out any of their opponents, we did not witness any attacks on any candidates today. Although they all did an excellent job of clarifying their positions on the various issues mentioned, it was very clear that the audience was largely disappointed with the lack of differentiating done between the candidates. One can only hope that as they proceed with their campaigns, at least a few of them can muster up the "cojones" to go after their political opponents in the bid for Governor.


  1. From one blogger to another, I must congratulate you on this killer post. Kudos for paying such close attention and making such keen points. Keep being rational and keep up the great writing.

  2. I agree that Jerry Brown stood out from the rest as the most impressive as well as most well spoken candidate with clear plans for California. His explanations were clear and logical, and I enjoyed his rhetoric.

    Regarding immigration, I did find it refreshing for Mr. Brown to recognize illegal immigrants as people too, with "hopes, loves, dreams, and desires", as it seems that far too often politicans tend to simply view them as intruders who aren't paying taxes.

    Additionally, I loved Brown's analogy for those arguing that "now is not the time" to keep up with the Global Warming Act of 2006, wittily remarking that such an attitude is like "saying that it's okay to beat your wife when you're unhappy, but that it's not once you're happy again".

    I feel that Jerry Brown is most definitely the candidate to beat in November, and I wish him all the best in the election!

  3. Thanks for the props Cody. I'm starting to think I should've posted a picture though.