Who wants to be governor?

Oct 012003
Authors: Joe Marshall

Sixty-five signatures, $3,500, citizenship and residency. Only

in America can anyone in possession of these three items exercise

their ultimate right as a citizen to seek public office.

The California recall vote of Gov. Gray Davis is perhaps the

best example of democracy our great nation has ever witnessed. Yes,

there are so many different people from so many different walks of

life running for governor that the event has become a fiasco of

sorts. The event has only become a folly, however, because those

against the recall have made it into one.

In ancient Greece, Athenian citizens were required to serve at

least one year in their city-state’s legislature. A body consisting

of 500 voting members, each citizen was obliged to take part in

creating legislation and making decisions that affected everyone

under the influence of the metropolis. Our nation’s governmental

structure is more passive; citizens are not required to serve, but

instead are given an opportunity which most never use to their

advantage. The fact that Americans have never witnessed a spectacle

of democracy like this election should be thought of as tragic and

not treated as comedy. Even more tragic is the fact that there are

people on the ballot whose sole intent is to make the very

foundation of democratic rule appear trite and ridiculous.

When people look at the 135 different candidates on the ballot,

they will see a smut peddler (Larry Flynt), a porn queen (Mary

Carey), a 35-year-old former child star (Gary Coleman), a

fruit-abusing comedian (Leo Gallagher), a stripper (Angelyne), a

cyborg (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and a guy named Michael Jackson. I

think what most people are failing to realize, however, is how so

many of these people are against the recall and are on the ballot

for the sole purpose of satirizing it.

Take Gary Coleman for example; according to CNN.com, he was

placed on the ballot by a Bay-area newspaper as a protest to the

recall. Coleman, conversely, has been quoted as saying he plans to

vote for Arnold Schwarzenegger. As quoted on CNN.com, Coleman

states, “Now that Arnold is in the race, there is no race. Gray

Davis needs to pack his bags,” but Coleman still has no plans to

drop out of the race. If Coleman’s only aspiration is to hamper and

cloud the electoral process, he might as well post up at a polling

place with a shotgun and shoot at anyone who tries to vote. What a

shame it is that people are using their rights as American citizens

to trivialize the very practice that makes America great.

Michael Jackson, on the other hand, should be applauded for

using his right as an American to get on the ballot. No, I am not

talking about the Michael Jackson who used his freedom of

expression to metamorphose from a cool African American man into a

deranged Caucasian woman. I’m talking about Michael A. Jackson, the

satellite payload engineer from Long Beach, ex-Navy man and father

of two. I spoke with Jackson last week, and he feels the same way

about his state government as he does about his name; he wishes it

were different. While he doesn’t want to change his name right now,

he would like to try changing his government. He had been planning

on running for the state legislature until the recall came around,

and he decided to give running for governor a try.

Jackson is only one of a number of candidates who is genuinely

concerned about making a difference in his home state. Among these

candidates are teachers, lawyers, small business owners, a retired

meat packer and even a college student (who is on the ballot to

draw attention to recent tuition hikes).

Unfortunately for them, the comical connotations this race has

taken on will almost certainly do nothing but damage to their

budding political aspirations and reputations. By running for

governor they are being recognized by the whole world; by running

in the recall vote of 2003, they are getting laughed at, which is


Only in America can an average citizen wake up one day, decide

to run for governor and actually get on the ballot. Only in America

would people actually make a mockery out of a privilege that people

in other parts of the world die trying to secure. What a


Heroes of the week: All the candidates running in the California

recall election because they actually want to be governor.

Zero of the week: The Democratic Party. This whole election only

serves to fortify why I changed my party affiliation. Ideologically

I’m a Democrat, but I’m a registered Republican because I feel the

Democratic Party today is a weak, groveling, reactionary

institution. Democrats point at the 2000 election fiasco and call

it a corrupt and undemocratic slight dealt to America by the

Republican Party, then attempt to keep Gray Davis in office by

turning the recall vote into a joke? The party should concede to

Davis being a poor governor (he does have the lowest approval

rating of any governor in history), cut ties and move on. Instead

they are using some of their party’s most faithful black sheep to

undercut the foundations of democracy. Sounds like something John

Ashcroft would do.

Joe is senior majoring in history. His column runs every





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