Gubernatorial race in California not a laughing matter

Intellectuals, actors, comedians, a porn mogul, a model, and — oh yes — some actual politicians. The gubernatorial race in California has certainly taken on a circus-like atmosphere, resembling more Hollywood than politics.

Personally, I’m a little disappointed not enough quality talent entered the race. You would think a chance to govern the state with the most electoral votes would at least attract an actor of Oscar caliber. Imagine if the spookily cool Christopher Walken were made governor, then eventually president.

Instead, we have Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose most difficult lines in his last movie consisted of, “You are terminated” and “Talk to the hand.” On the upside, Arnie gained plenty of hands-on experience fighting terrorists in True Lies and took on Batman.

Running for governor of any state, of course – like owning semi-automatic weapons – is a constitutionally protected right in this democratic, freedom-loving nation of ours. What is disturbing, however, is the lack of concern given to this rather grave situation.

Is anybody taking this race seriously? From the average SUV-driving American, to the media, to even some of the candidates, many of us seem to be reducing this gubernatorial recall to a joke.

But have we honestly examined the implications of this current showbiz debasement of the political process and the possible repercussions if questionable candidates win this race?

The polls had earlier shown Schwarzenegger, even before he had laid out a political platform, as the favorite to win the recall. Well, that’s comforting. I wonder how many Californians will be casting ballots for Arnie on the basis that he almost got with a three-breasted girl in “Total Recall.”

The inherent problem of this whole mess, of course, is our democratic system. Let’s face it. Democracy is a bit overrated. Sure, we all would like to believe that every adult citizen is responsible and competent enough to vote but, come on, really, haven’t we all seen Old School?

Considering that we Americans are notorious for our political apathy, having a sideshow like this is not exactly the best way to revive citizen interests in the political process and gain mature voting constituents. Chances are those who already feel alienated from politics will sink further into depression and cynicism while those who do become interested in the election because a porn star is running are probably not good representatives of the population.

So what to make of all this? Is it time to sound the death knell of democracy and switch to something more reliable, like communism? They don’t have stand-up comedians running in North Korea, that’s for sure.

Well, the most recent polls do show that the current leader for governor, in the case Davis gets recalled, is Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante (D). The second favorite is Arnold, who, despite his lack of political activism, appears to be serious in running and is surrounding himself with a supporting cast of bona-fide politicians. Hence, the legitimate contenders are leading, showing that Californians are not so easily taken in by Springer-like antics. There is hope for the unruly mob yet.

Of course, as election day gets closer things will definitely get more serious since only those candidates with real political agendas will continue to blow a ridiculous amount of time and money campaigning. And perhaps it was only inevitable in a state that’s home to Hollywood that entertainers would exploit the media blitz for personal profit. Still, one can’t help but wonder how many Californians will be that incredibly immature (or maybe just have poor taste in humor) to vote for the clown candidates.

Phil Dureza, Cornell Daily Sun,
Cornell University, New York