Beware the impending 2014 political tsunami

Consider yourself warned: 2014 is an election year, and incumbents and newbies alike will do whatever it takes to get your vote and clean up Sacramento

Greg Lucas' state-politics column Capitol Lowdown appears every other week in SN&R. He also blogs at

In the tempestuous world of California politics, it’s the calm before the shitstorm. Savor the moment. Cherish the memory, because like Merlin says in one of those Camelot flicks, “It is the doom of men that they forget.”

One thing it’ll be impossible to forget is that 2014 is an even-numbered year, the nadir of state and federal politics. An old aphorism sums it up: Never underestimate the cowardice of an elected official, and double it in an even-numbered year. Why do evens suck so much more than odds? In a word: elections.Winning elections is a necessity for politicians to stay on the public pad and, not to shock or anything, but elected officials dig their jobs and really, really, super badly want to keep them for as long as possible. Why wouldn’t they? They are treated with deference by captains of industry, Hollywood swells and even regular Joes and Josephinas who want to do nice things for them like upgrading a hotel reservation, seating them in the first row on a flight, inviting them to the luxury box, or offering them an on-the-house dessert or a bulging envelope of crisp C-notes.

Legislators and statewide officials also get invited to a bunch of cool events, often at five-star destinations. And no matter how egocentric, inane or unctuous a politician might be, they’re inevitably asked to say a few words and receive more of the adoration their selfless public service so richly deserves.

So when it comes time for voters to decide whether an incumbent should continue in public service, those incumbents strive mightily to communicate to those voters just exactly how bitchin’ a job they’re doing for their communities and California at large.

There are coffees and confabs and get-togethers and neighborhood walks and weekend folding tables in front of the Save Mart during odd-number years, but there’ll be tons more in 2014, which starts in less than a week. The new year’s elections also mean begging for money from candidates, their spouses, relatives and like-minded politicians will balloon into a mailbox and inbox spam tsunami.

But don’t worry. The nightmare doesn’t start immediately. Like most horrific situations, it’s a gradual disintegration into unspeakable foulness.

Some poor schlep is going to challenge Jerry Brown for governor. He or she will repeatedly claim the quirky septuagenarian doesn’t have the fresh blood needed to chain-whip California’s vexing problems into submission. And while Brown and the Republican roadkill-to-be-named shadowbox, the same nattering will be echoed by all the legislative and statewide office wannabes squaring off against incumbents. The nattering goes something like this:

These incumbent imbeciles have done nothing except add new meaning to California’s Golden State nickname by standing atop the Capitol’s rotunda and pissing on the heads of the hardworking electorate. They should be thrown out and replaced with new people who will clean up the cesspool that is Sacramento, bringing peace and happiness to all. Eerily similar to the same load of crap former Gov. Oafinator laid on us, isn’t it?

But wait. Don’t forget the half-dozen or more hot-button ballot measures. Doctors teeing off against bloodsucking trial lawyers. Health-care chiselers duking it out with alleged consumer advocates. Tens of millions will be squandered on robocalls and mailers and ads yammering and yapping week after week that make squeezing the Charmin seem like Robert Frost. Lord have mercy.

All of which is yet another compelling reason to spend a few moments today, this week, next week and every day thereafter reflecting on the awesome stuff laid on our doorstep daily by loved ones and friends, and how that bounty invariably increases if more attention is placed on building up the piles of awesomeness on the doorsteps of others. Oddly enough, focusing on increasing the good of other people seems to quiet that even-numbered year of sound and fury, and might even make 2014 a happier new year.