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Why Not Say 'Yes' to the Recall Revelry?

October 05, 2003|Dana Parsons

Not that you asked, but I've disliked this California recall from the start. Among several festering complaints is the undemocratic element to the two-tiered voting -- a complaint that apparently doesn't bother other patriots who profess to value our system of government.

Let's say you want to recall Gray Davis but would prefer that he be governor rather than, for example, Arnold Schwarzenegger. So if you vote to oust Davis, you're helping Schwarzenegger's chances over Davis, which is contrary to your wishes. However, if you vote to keep Davis because you prefer him to Schwarzenegger, you're voting against your wishes in wanting Davis removed.

It's the only election scenario I can think of in which your own vote may contribute to an outcome you don't want. That's how I'd define undemocratic.

However, it's much too late to lament things like that, so I've decided to revert to my normal chipper self and revel in the glee that recall supporters are feeling. What better place to tap into that than one of the Orange County recall offices that has played a key role in getting out the anti-Davis vote? And they're still going strong.

"We have a stack of names 5 inches high to call [before Tuesday]," says Gina Zari, a consultant from the Sacramento headquarters of Rescue California, the group behind the recall.

Zari was in the Newport Beach office Friday and was saying that the enthusiasm for Schwarzenegger hasn't abated since he announced his candidacy two months ago and people "started going crazy."

"We've probably distributed thousands of lawn signs and bumper stickers," Zari says. "People come in and say, 'How much for a yard sign?' and 'How much for a bumper sticker?' and offer to pay us for them. We say, 'No, they're free.' "

I don't have Arnold fever (I'd hate to see his movie career end), so I ask Zari what people see in the big lug, all the while realizing I'm in the county that sent Bob Dornan to Congress over and over.

"It's incredible," she says. "I've never ever seen people so motivated to walk precincts and to make phone calls and to volunteer. If it weren't a recall, I don't think Arnold would have quite as much enthusiasm behind him, but it would still be there. Because Gray Davis has been disliked for so long by these people, I think that contributes to the fervent excitement for Arnold."

That's the only thing that gives me any recall peace: that despite ulterior motives by many opponents, Davis contributed mightily to his own demise.

I ask to hear more about Arnold's popularity. "It's a combination of things," Zari says. "He's successful in his career and he seems so genuine and has such charisma. It's easy to get behind him." His success and personal fortune, she says, have convinced people that he must have only good motives for wanting to take on a job as tough as being governor in tough times.

I can think of a less noble reason or two, but wanting to stay upbeat this recall weekend, I press Zari for more reasons for the recall's apparent success.

"The people we've seen in our office feel that Gray Davis has been very dishonest and you can't put your faith in someone to lead your state who's so dishonest," Zari says. "That's the sense I've gotten from the beginning."

I could have asked at that moment about Arnold's original denials of boorish behavior around some women -- before he 'fessed up last week -- but that would have killed the festive mood.

This is a weekend to celebrate what recall supporters say is democracy at its finest. Let's all join the parade and anoint Arnold Schwarzenegger -- this man we trust and know so well -- to turn our fortunes around.

Dana Parsons' column

appears Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. He can be

reached at (714) 966-7821, at or at The Times' Orange County edition, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626.

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