The resignation of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin provides an opportunity to understand what is happening to us in California. There are people who have so little respect for government and governing that they think Palin’s resignation is a good thing. In California there are also people who have so little respect for government and governing that they think it is a good idea to let the state fall off of a financial cliff.
Sarah Palin is said to be resigning so she can climb the ladder of Republican politics — possibly even to run for the Republican nomination for President in 2012. One would think that abandoning office in the middle of her term would disqualify her from having a future in seeking elected office. But this is not the case — just the opposite. In fact this is so much not the case that the resignation is seen as a “brilliant” strategic move to increase her chances of obtaining that Presidential nomination prize.
The lesson to take away from Palin’s resignation is that actually governing once elected to office is not the point. Modern-day Republican Party politics is not about governing, not even a little bit. It is about being against governing.
This is how they can get away with being against government: Good government was put in place in this country in the 1930s, 40s, 50s and 60s (with 90% tax rates at the top, by the way) and has been taken for granted since. The infrastructure of roads, laws, trash collection, etc. has been in place and functioning for so long that it is taken for granted. And so it all provides a safe platform for anti-government ideologues to pretend that government is not needed.
This brings us to California. We have a minority of elected officials who also do not care about governing. So far they have been able to get away with it, because of the work that We, the People did for several decades to build this state and make it governable.
California enjoyed massive government infrastructure investment from the 1930s through the 1960s. We built the best roads, water systems, schools, courts, etc. As a result we had the most prosperous industries, most well-educated people and best-functioning government.
And so the anti-government tax-cutting ideologues were able to defer maintenance of that wonderful system, handing the maintenance money out as tax cuts, and no one saw the foundations of that prosperity slowly begin to erode. They were able to complain about government and ignore governing because government was there for them and all of us anyway.
Well now we have coasted along on the infrastructure built decades ago, but it has eroded, and we are coming to the end of the time when the ideologues can enjoy the luxury of deferring maintenance. But our Republican leadership is firmly entrenched in their anti-governing ideology. They are willing to let the state fall off a cliff rather than actually pay to maintain the governing structure they depend on — because they believe it will just operate as it seemingly always has, for free.
But governing is about about the people of the state and their needs. It takes skill,
wisdom, an understanding of government and governing to be an elected
leader. Sarah Palin obviously has none of these qualities, nor does Ahnold, for
that matter. While our most vulnerable
people are begging for their services and programs not to be dismantled so that
they can actually have food and help in their most basic needs, our Governator
boasts about sitting in his jacuzzi smoking a stogie.Would FDR ever suggest that? Would Dwight
Eisenhower? What kind of leadership,
compassion, understanding is reflected in these kind of “leaders.” The answer is
obvious and dramatic: NONE.