As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Bass And Steinberg Statement Considered Harmful

George Lakoff writes today that this could be a moment of freedom for California Democrats. Their compromised ballot measured having gone down in flames, they can now focus on the only solution to what ails the state: democracy. They can include in every public utterance until the moment the 2/3 rule is repealed the theme that California's democracy is broken, and that we must restore it with a majority vote for budget and revenue matters. The time for half-steps and non-fixes must be over.

Up to now, Democrats have been acting like sheep being herded by the Republican minority. They need to show courage and stand up for what they believe. That’s what the voters are waiting for [...]

Get rid of the 55% proposals. People understand that majority rule means democracy. 55% means nothing.

Even if you don’t address taxes and just address the budget process, the Republicans will still say you’re going to raise taxes. You may as well go for real democracy.

And finally, get a unified message that can be supported by the grassroots. Do grassroots organizing for 2010, starting now. Organize spokespeople to get that message out. Organize bookers to book your spokespeople in the media. You Democrats are a majority. Act like it. The public will respect you for it.

Unfortunately, Darrell Steinberg and Karen Bass failed the first test, stuck in a mindset that will bring the state to ruin. First, Steinberg.

"The voters have spoken and they are telling us that government should do the best it can with the money it has. We will immediately and responsibly get to work to balance the budget and head off a cash crisis in July. Delay is not an option. The necessary decisions we must make will only get harder with time."

That is not what voters are telling you. As I said yesterday, you cannot reconcile the supposed anti-tax fervor with the passage of a transient occupancy tax in conservative Palmdale with 64% of the vote. California is a big state and no one message from a statewide election can predominate, but the mass boycott of the polls certainly suggests that we don't want to do your job anymore. I know it's been so long since Democrats exercised their Democratic muscles and principles in Sacramento, but this election called out the political leadership for failed governance. And everyone who has studied this for half a second understands that the failure will continue until the structural barriers are removed. And so making this absurd and vindictive statement about voter intentions both misses an opportunity to refocus the discussion and angers the grassroots further.

Here's Bass:

"There are many difficult choices and a lot of hard work ahead of us. We now have to responsibly fill the budget hole that has been caused by the national recession and deepened by the failure of today's ballot propositions. I hope the bipartisan cooperation between the Legislature and the Governor that went into this effort will continue as we move forward - the people of California clearly expect us to work together to get the job done. And we will.

The people of California could give a rat's ass who works together with who. They don't want to see this level of dysfunction anymore. Bipartisan cooperation was clearly rejected last night, because inevitably that gives leverage to the minority and provides unworkable non-solutions.

Where is the argument for DEMOCRACY in these statements? Since 1978 that democracy has crumbled and needs to be completely rebuilt. Everyone knows this but refuses to say it out loud. This is why the legislature and the Governor have historically low approval ratings. People are starved for actual leadership and see none. Only democracy will save us. This failed experiment with conservative Two Santa Claus Theories has now become deeply destructive. Because the democrats have provided no leadership and ceded the rhetorical ground, California public opinion holds the contradictory beliefs that the state should not raise taxes and also not cut spending. And if it persists without leadership and advocacy to the contrary, nothing will change.

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