Hast la Vista, Democracy

SchwarzeneggerWatching the recall process in California has been like watching an insane neighbor dig up his backyard in some crazy treasure hunt. Every day, as first the grass and then the soil and then the pipes running beneath the neighborhood get torn up and piled in a destructive heap, the yard becomes a worse and worse disaster, and yet it still seems hopeless that the neighbor would ever listen to a reasonable argument against calling the whole thing off.

In a search for some poorly imagined vision of a highly responsive democracy, Californians have basically turned their state into a disaster area, a junkyard of a republic, littered with rusting, wrecked ideals of governance via polls. The fight for the governor’s mansion is a ‘king of the hill’ battle for a ruined kingdom, and any semblance of progress, of righting wrongs, seems futile.

And yet, Californians seem to be energized by this. There’s lots of talk today about expected voter turnout of a record scale, of lines at the polling places and intense interest in the fate of Gray Davis. This is the silver lining, I guess — people actually voting. Of course, it frightens me that a small nation of “Inside Hollywood” viewers is going to fall for the cringe-worthy, simple-minded political amateurism of Arnold Schwarzenneger, but at least these people are voting. Californian democracy is a shambles, but at least there’s participation.