Looks like actual bipartisanship can be a liability of epic proportions -- at least, when you implicitly concede to the other party's agenda while simultaneously directly contradicting a strategy aimed at retrieving your own party's political capital so that you can escape the albatross of an unpopular public official.
Which is, you know, totally unprecedented.
But more importantly, being a genuinely bipartisan Republican is especially dangerous, and the Los Angeles Times has given us one more reason to believe that. The Times reports
that the six Republican legislators infamously known as the "Sacramento
Six" who crossed party lines and voted for the tax-raising,
spending-cutting, lottery-borrowing budget are now facing "backlash
from conservative activists and regular voters alike."
This is an apt reaction from those voters - especially the so-called "conservative activists." Bipartisanship has a bad name among conservative luminaries, and rightfully so. Whenever the word is used as a rhetorical device by one political party, it is almost inevitably a tacit threat to steamroller the other if they don't roll over and play dead.
Given the recent Democratic (and by extension, liberal) dominance, it's no surprise that conservative activists are upset that their legislators caved to this rhetorical bludgeoning device. It also doesn't help that the national infrastructure of the conservative movement has been gleefully turning California into a test case for every single one of its ideas about the problems of state interference, and so far that strategy has been all too accurate.
The cover of the March 9th issue of
National Review features Schwarzenegger as a screaming baby with the
caption "Girly man Ruins State" (a diagnosis whose crudity is only
matched by its accuracy), while supposed unofficial leader of the
Republican Party, Rush Limbaugh, has been cheering California's
Republicans for not giving in on the budget.
Now, there is no doubt that California's conservatives have a list of grievances with California's government which, if it were ever put on paper, would probably be long enough to mummify the planet Earth. California and, more importantly Governor Schwarzenegger, have been a popular target for conservative pundits ever since the former became defined by its association with San Francisco and since the latter sold out to the Left.
Moreover, the conservative movement has a firmer grip on
California politics than most of California's bluer citizens would like
to admit. After all, President Ronald Reagan was governor of California
in a previous life, and to some extent, his influence has lingered on.
But all that said, it is worth asking whether conservative activists have picked the right target at the moment, where their political capital is concerned. In the short term, the answer is obviously yes. After all, California's citizens are mostly hopping mad at the budget, and most, if not all of them can find something to object to in the Leviathan bill.
By recalling the Republican
legislators responsible for this debacle, California's conservatives
would send a clear message that deviance from the ideological line will
not be tolerated because it is definitionally wrong. This would also be
good practice for conservative activists in dealing with other appeasing legislators
who are often liabilities to the movement's cause. It could also allow
the movement to effectively discard any baggage left over from the
budget once the storm hits, rather the same way it is currently
embroiled in discarding the detritus from Bush.
All of these would be persuasive arguments, if the movement could count on a fair hearing in California. But as is painfully obvious given the state's blue leaning, that is most often not the case. The budget is not out of the woods yet, since Schwarzenegger apparently still wants to waste the state's money on more special elections, and so if it goes down in flames along with the legislators who supported it, that opens the way for Democratic operatives to attack the conservative movement (as they have been for a while) as the party of "no."
Given their voting patterns, California's people will be
all-too-ready to listen to anything, anything but blame for
their profligacy, and will be all-too-happy to tar those goshdarn
tax-cutting heartless people who hate the poor, rather than take a hard
look at their own fiscally irresponsible impulses.
True, most of California doesn't listen to Rush, but with the right strategy, one hopes they will listen to reason.