Cali kids react to gubernatorial recall
There are 76 Bowdoin students from California. None of them are running for governor.
The California recall election campaign has been a political roller coaster, with a new court decision or revelation about a candidate popping up at every twist and turn. While political junkies and pollsters have no doubt enjoyed every minute of the ride, California residents-those the recall is designed to benefit-are starting to feel a bit ill from all the ups and downs. Bowdoin students from the Golden State are no exception.
It's not that some weren't ill to begin with. "Just look at the problems that plague our state," said Lauren Garry, a senior from Fresno. "The massive deficit, resulting in an increase in taxes, terrible public education, a 100 percent increase on taxes for license fees, and a massive increase in gas prices."
Most students who responded to an Orient survey reported that they will vote in the recall election, though they seem to be of two minds when it comes to the merits of the recall itself.
"I will be voting in the recall because I feel it is my civic duty to put into office a governor who will help California get out of it's horrendous fiscal crisis," said David Friedlander '06.
Graham Patterson '06 is against the whole notion of the recall. "The recall election undermines the way our government is supposed to work," he said. "I believe that once a person wins an election they should then serve out their full term." Davis was reelected to a four-year term in 2002.
Others are only voting in the recall after several assurances that the election will be fair. "Voting is a privilege Americans has fought and died for and when electing an official to serve the people, the person should have the respect from those who elected him to serve out his term," said Alexis Bawden '04. "However, I have already voted by absentee ballot. Since it was approved by the California electorate and survived federal appeals court appeals finding it nondiscriminatory, I feel this is a good time to remove an ineffective governor."
Pat Soong '04 draws a distinction between the recall itself and the candidates running. "I'm voting in the recall because Governor Davis and California have huge issues that need to be sorted out," he said, but quickly added: "Of course, the recall is laughable in the sense that anyone can run for it."
Sure, if by anyone he means Arnold Schwarzenegger. Students here from California have a variety of views on Arnold.
"Arnold is a legitimate gubernatorial candidate and is involved and concerned with the state's politics. His inexperience as a professional politician is one of his most appealing aspects," Bawden said.
Garry agrees, pointing to Schwarzenegger's pro-business approach, which many feel is what the stagnant California economy requires. "Arnold is a legitimate candidate," she said. "He wants to amend the bad business atmosphere so businesses won't leave California and he wants to balance the budget and give more money to education."
Others aren't convinced. Sophomore Kari Barber said, "Arnold is a joke. He can't even pronounce 'California' correctly."
Braden Anderson-Gram '04 places responsibility for Arnold's popularity on the voters. "I feel [candidates like Arnold] are legitimate as are so many other politicians in this country who lead public lives that are obviously not their own," he said. "It is the voters' fault for not being able to see through this ambiguity and getting us to this point, where celebrities actually have a chance at winning the governor's race in the largest state in the country."
Government Professor Chris Potholm sees the popularity of Arnold's candidacy as the result of Gray Davis' ineffective governance: "I don't understand all this cynicism [about such celebrity candidates as Arnold]. Davis has made such a hash of the situation and is such a true lightweight that any number of people think they can beat him."
Professor Marc Hetherington, also of the government department, also thinks students should take the candidates seriously. "Like it or not, the election is going to decide who is governor, no matter how goofy the candidates might be," he said. "Students are taking the event seriously suggests their sophistication."
The criticism of Arnold's candidacy and that of other celebrities is part of a larger criticism of California's whacky and unpredictable politics. Many students from the state feel the criticism is justified.
"California is a political carnival right now," said first-year Steven Carlson. "It merits all of the jokes and criticism."
Chan defends his home state's political process, however, preferring to see the recall as a bold initiative by a state determined to solve its problems. "I recognize that we have a lot of problems in California and I am not ashamed to admit that. The only way change can be made is through strong will power and faith in one's own political and social beliefs. My belief is strongly behind this recall process," he said.
The question on everyone's mind is how many voters share that same passion
enough to make them show up on the polls on Tuesday.