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Voting is far more valuable than $150 million

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POSTED April 24, 2010 2:19 a.m.
I am a registered Republican.

I will not be voting for Meg Whitman in November.

It is a little presumptuous, I guess, to assume that she is going to be able to successfully buy the party’s nomination in June. Steve Poziner, though, has about as much chance of stopping Whitman as Davey Crockett had of winning the battle of the Alamo unless Congress approves a federal stimulus package for underfunded millionaires running against flush billionaires in gubernatorial primaries.

Money may not buy general elections in California too often but they have a nasty habit of doing so in the primaries where you can pander to the far right among Republicans or the far left among Democrats. Whitman, of course, is willing to spend $150 million of her money to prove that theory wrong.

Which brings out a rather contradictory point about Whitman: In one of her few real interviews – which explains why she doesn’t grant them – when she was queried about if she was launching a business today in California if she would do so with what she now knows about how the state regulates and taxes business. Her answer was, if she couldn’t change things, she’d move to Texas.

I must have missed something. Meg Whitman has $150 million she can blow running for elected office and still have more money left over than the gross national product of a Third World Country. If California was so horrible for business, how did she become a billionaire running e-Bay?

Whitman is not the proverbial cloth coat Republican. That’s OK. It’s a big tent party. Even billionaires can belong just like they can in the Democratic Party. There is no class war going on in the GOP – at least from those that Whitman is trying to buy off with her slick ads. Although you don’t see Whitman rubbing elbows very many times in an uncontrolled environment with rank-and-file Republicans who aren’t members of the Commonwealth Club.

Since Whitman’s handlers like to point out her opponent’s political transgressions of supporting Democrats, she’s lucky most Republicans aren’t so narrow minded to fall into that trap. That is why most can probably forgive her for committing what one would think was a slap in the face of most Republicans by her past support of Barbara Boxer including a full-scale endorsement along with $4,000.

On the other hand, it is intriguing that an intelligent woman is willing to spend $150 million out of her own pocket because she honestly believes she can make a difference in Sacramento by getting the political hacks that are in the front and back pockets of special interests all across the spectrum to work together for the common good of California and to make necessary political sacrifices to do so. Everyone loves a good Don Quixote story.

Many points of her plan for California also sound good. It may be a little light on details but how many politicians have openly made it possible for people to request a copy of their governing proposals when most everyone seems to prefer to try and campaign solely in sound bites crafted to get the most votes?

Of course, the days of folks running for office espousing ideas and philosophies instead of cheap shots and slick ads ended years ago. That explains why there will never be another Douglas-Lincoln campaign. We’re too preoccupied anyway with American Idol to sit still for two hours and listen to a no-holds debate on the issues.

 Whitman – and other candidates – know this. They may bemoan California is such a big media market that the only way to reach 38 million people is to do so en masse electronically, but that works to their advantage as they can carefully craft an image much as if you’re trying to convince consumers to patronize one on-line auction over another.

To make it clear Steve Poziner is not perfect nor is Jerry Brown. One wouldn’t expect perfection from a politician or one that mirrors your views straight down the line.

However, there is one sin that Whitman committed that – thanks to her explanation – she elevated to cardinal sin status.

How can anyone simply say they were too busy to bother to vote for 28 years?

My grandmother even with the advent of absentee voting would make it a point to go to the polls. It was a painful experience given her severe arthritis and the need to get around by a cane.

Her rationale was she had to vote regardless of how sick she was or in how much pain she was. She figured if the men that she knew who gave their lives in World War II and the Korean War made such a sacrifice, voting was the least she could do regardless of how inconvenient. Actually showing up at a voting booth demonstrated how important you viewed that freedom. Simply mailing in a checked ballot wasn’t the same thing.

If one is, as Whitman put it, “too busy” with her personal life plus making money and raising a family to vote for 28 years, questioning one’s commitment to the process is extremely legitimate.
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