This is an unusual year. Both the Red Sox and the Cubs have a chance to play in the World Series. They will probably break our hearts, but you never know...the curses of the Bambino and Billy Goat may be lifted.
California offers the world another actor-turned-politician. Let's see...George Murphy, Ronald Reagan, Fred Thompson (oops, he is from Tennessee!)...and now - Arnold Schwartzenegger.
What happened? Is it all a right-wing conspiracy funded by Enron? Maybe it is a deep-cover operation orchestrated by the Left to discredit Gray Davis' replacement. Or maybe, just maybe, the leaders of the recall tapped into a raw nerve of frustration. Recalling the entire state legistlature was not feasible. Davis, like a baseball manager of a losing team, takes the fall for a system subverted by short-sightedness and corruption.
What is next for Arnold and California? Gridlock? More cliches and posturing? Or is there an opportunity for the powers in Sacramento to make wise decisions for the future?
The post-recall realities are just as harsh as the pre-recall ones. Bloated budgets, infrastructure crises, immigration controversies and the climate for economic growth remain paramount issues obscured by politically-correct social legistlation (driver's licenses for illegal residents and domestic partner laws deserve real thought, not just impassioned polemics) and backroom deal making with casino owners on the Left and agribusiness on the Right.
There are two guiding thoughts that should inform the way forward for California. The first is the fact that individual Californians must bear most of the responsibility for the current crises. Voters elect politicians, feed off the pork passed into law and abuse benefit programs. Voters make bad economic decisions (dot-bomb) and then expect the government to rescue them. The solution? A call to personal integrity, sacrifice and community support.
The second thought is derived from the first - government administration must be made efficient and excellent, delivering necessary service is a cost-effective way. We CAN cut money from a variety of programs without cutting essential services, if we are willing to take on certain entrenched powers, like public employee unions and some educational establishments.
Do teachers deserve more money and smaller classes? Yes, if they teach well and we cut administrative overhead. Do we need improved parks, roads and sewers? Yes, if the process is streamlined and fewer "boards" are involved. Should all qualified students have a shot at college? Yes, if we focus on programs and schools that educate broadly and well. Even though I have a humanities background and am a champion of academic freedom, I do not think my tax dollars need to fund the political agenda of academic elites who are still living in the late 1960s.
Personal responsibility and administrative efficiency are not popular solutions, but they are essential to the future of our state.
Next week - The Immigration Crisis