Who Needs Leadership...
...when you have a lot of money to mislead? I'm normally averse to wealthy candidates financing their campaigns. If you want to be cynical about it, that can be taken as a euphemism for "buying" an office, though I don't typically go that far. I've been doing a lot of reading on the founding fathers and the constitution lately and they seemed to have been appalled, more or less, with the idea of people using their wealth to obtain office. That's clear in the fact that they pay compesation to office holders (so as not to disqualify those without wealth) and that they did not disqualify those who lacked substantial property ownership. Incidentally, the age requirements and forbidding of "titles of nobility" suggest that they did not want unqualified people with lots of money (or family connections) to be able to hold high office.
Witnessing Steve Westly's campaign of late, I now see my apprehensions, and those of the founders, confirmed. Issue by issue Angelides has demonstrated a far superior level of understanding. Furthermore, Angelides has presented a much more thorough and complete plan. If you compare the records of the two, there really is no comparison to Angelides' much more acclaimed and impressive record in government. The people who spend most of their time analyzing the issues--be it environment, economy, education, California workers, ...--are almost unanimous in their endorsement of Angelides. An honest analysis of the records of the two candidates leaves no question why this is the case. Yet despite the embarassingly lopsided comparison, Steve Westly somehow manages to remain close.
Today I was asked a question by a high school reporter about the governors race. He mentioned that there has been an increase in negative ads lately and asked how a high school student is supposed to evaluate the candidates. I told him what I thought was obvious: examine their records and see why so many of our prominent leaders are supporting Angelides. That was before I got my Westly mailer--which, as an absentee voter, was delivered way too late--and heard a couple of Westly's new ads. I was literally speechless for several minutes when I saw Westly's mailer claiming that Angelides wants to raise taxes on "California's workers".
Since Westly's campaing staff appears intent to watch him walk around his bus with no clothes on, I had to comment. That is a lie Steve! You can hide behind that faux-populism, as if it were some wondrous garment, but the fact remains that it covers nothing. Nothing! Your weak-kneed approach to campaigning on the "issues" is no substitute for genuine leadership and governing. You are making it extraodinarily difficult to vote for you come November (if you manage to pull off a well financed win). A primary win, to me, will not have been earned fairly and that's a hard, bitter pill for me to swallow--and having witnessed hundreds of campaigns by now, I can swallow some rather large horse pills.
Westly's "evolution" as a politician reminds me of Darryl Strawberry's career in baseball. As a youngster, I used to admire the Straw because he was talented, passionate and had so much promise. It was so fun to watch and follow his career. That made it so difficult and heartbreaking to watch him turn into a coke addicted loser. I thought Westly was such a promising leader and it is disappointing to see him peddle such tabloid garbage to Californians because he has the money to do so. There is nothing worse than seeing someone you admire and believe in throw it all away, regardless of the context. (For those who want to claim I'm comparing Westly to a drug addict, get real. I'm comparing the frustrations of watching two promising individuals squander their potential.)
Leadership is earned, not bought. Westly not only failed to purchase my vote, but he lost a great deal of my respect. I know there won't be any campaign folks who will read this, but I figured I owed it to myself to be on record as opposing Westly's tactics. It not only debases a Democratic governorship, but it has underminded the Democratic Party which has fought the stereotype of fiscal irresponsibility for a long time. Westly may not be a conservative, but he is helping to undermine the progressive cause, whether he intends to or not.