Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Angelides for Governor!

American Prospect Online - ViewWeb
Phil Angelides looks like a nerd. Gangly and elongated, earnest in manner, liberal in politics, he is in almost every way the polar opposite of the current governor of California -- whom, Angelides announced yesterday, he is seeking to replace in next year's gubernatorial election...Emboldened by the Democrats' provisional success in warding off Bush's Social Security privatization proposal, Angelides intends to tap into California voters' historical commitment -- only sporadically in evidence in recent decades -- to public investment in schools, roads and the like, and their willingness to finance those investments with progressive taxation...If he can persuade state voters to agree with him, next year's election could tell a story in which Arnold never intended to appear: Revenge of the Nerds.

I went to a breakfast for Democratic Party faithful last week at which Angelides appeared--and he was good. The ritual display of wife and daughters, who seemed nice enough, wasn't particularly impressive and his attempts at homeletic passion were unconvincing, but his message was clear and correct.

The gubinatorial election in California, he said, was not about potholes or public utilities. It was a referendum on ideology--it put the question to California voters, and to the American public, whether they supported the current administration's social Darwinist policies. Republicans promoted the doctrine that pumping more money in at the top, through tax-breaks for the richest Americans, would trickle down and make everyone better off--in fact the gap between rich and poor was widening, services aimed at enabling the poor to better themselves were being starved and the state was going deeper into debt. California was the richest state in the richest nation on earth and could afford to provide real opportunities and a decent life for all. It didn't have to be like this.

Will he say this if, and when, he's nominated and speaking to the general public rather than the party faithful? Or will he display his daughters and pictures of his Greek immigrant grandparents and leave it at that?

At our last family table talk Paul argued that there was a conspiracy to make Americans stupid. Politicians by and large certainly think we're stupid, and act on the assumption that we can't follow even the simplest arguments or understand what is in our interests. So far it looks as if they've been right--but that is in large part because until recently Democrats haven't had the guts to explain why the conservative agenda was not in our interests--how taxes fund public services we depend on, how cuts to funding in education raise tuition and restrict access to state colleges, how benefits to corporations percolate up rather than trickling down.

I hope Angelides gets the nomination and had the guts to say to the public what he said at the breakfast last week in addition to displaying his wife and daughters and showing pictures of his Greek immigrant grandparents. This isn't to say that I wasn't taken by the Greek connection: last year, at the Democratic State Convention his party had the best Greek food. Xairete!


Boofykatz said...

Kali orexi! As I know you well know, for I have read your Blog for some time, all politicians treat their constituencies as stupid because, by and large, the constituencies are. The percentage of humanity that is able to see past its sociobiological canine teeth, if you will forgive the hyperbole, probably oscillates around 20% - on a good day. A lot of Piaget's work has been revised, but his estimate of that % of humanity that achieves abstract thought seems, to me, to be relevant. I sometimes wonder if the general scientific community has ever embraced the work of Vygotsky. Sorry this is a bit incoherent, but it is a Holmesian 2nd bottle issue.

H. E. said...

Probably right--but I still wonder why they can do calculus and I can't. And it doesn't explain the great American anomaly: a solidly conservative working class--where conservatism is far to the right of what it is in the UK.

Here is a splendid deadpan article on the new working class religious right. Jesus wept--and no wonder of it. Maybe it's a consequence of how far you can get in the US through good grooming, social skills and training--even in the absence of a cerebral cortex. May even explain the crusade to keep Terri Schiavo ticking over: humans have a right to life--brain optional.

Boofykatz said...

I passed a course in calculus, and at the time I could do it, but today I couldn't tell you the difference between a dot product and a cross product.
From across the pond I can't help feeling that the Chimp and his sibling were thinking "there, but for the absence of a CAT scan, go I"

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