Less campaigning, more governing

Former Senate Republican Leader Jim Brulte made an astute observation recently about the governor: “Arnold negotiated contracts in Hollywood,” remarked Brulte about why Schwarzenegger seems so frustrated with the political scene in Sacramento. “He was used to a business where when two people sat down to deal, they intended to make a deal.” Period.

Well it doesn’t always work that way in the complicated world of partisan politics, and that’s something Schwarzenegger has had a hard time wrapping his mind around. He’s clearly fed up with the simple fact that politicians from varying places on the ideological spectrum are not willing to make “deals” they perceive will hurt their constituents, their party or their own future prospects.

That’s how it has always been in the state Legislature. Politicians who want to make change simply have to get creative, resolve conflicts where possible, play hardball when necessary and find ways to circumvent the status quo. But Schwarzenegger hasn’t learned these truths—not yet. And he hasn’t made things easier on himself by resorting to lowbrow name-calling—recently, dubbing various Democrats everything from “losers” to “girlie men” to “three stooges.”

Also, the governor hasn’t made things any easier with his constant threats to bypass the Legislature and take reform measures directly to the ballot box. Most recently, Schwarzenegger has suggested a ballot-measure vote to, among other things, alter the way legislative and congressional district lines are drawn in California.

We all saw those national red-blue maps after the November election and know that California is a mini-example of that same conservative-liberal division that exists across the country. So, the idea of somehow shaking this up sounds like an appealing, independent idea. But make no mistake, Schwarzenegger’s proposal to have a panel of retired judges redraw the state’s political map is anything but nonpartisan. It’s put forth with the clear intention of reducing Schwarzenegger’s opposition in the Legislature and swinging California’s congressional delegation to a conservative majority.

Redistricting in this way doesn’t seem to work if the goal is truly to get voters more equity when it comes to representation. In Arizona, an independent panel redrew the state’s political map, but eight congressional incumbents won re-election anyway.

We agree with those who believe the state’s varied population could best be represented by doing away with the winner-take-all system and adopting a parliamentary approach. But a change like that is a long way off and hardly a solution for our state’s current problems.

Now is not the time for name-calling. And it’s not the time for more campaigning and an unscheduled special election that, by the way, would cost taxpayers an unnecessary $70 million. Now is the time for governing, however difficult and frustrating that may sometimes be.