There’s something uncomfortably narrow and unsatisfying about the ads for several of the California ballot propositions. The media spots don’t bother to argue their case on the issue, but instead urge “No” votes on the initiatives mainly because who’s backing them.
That’s a mistake, both philosophically and practically, I think.
Lets take the pragmatic view first. I understand that the Governor’s approval ratings are justifiably low right now. Anything associated with Gov. Schwarzenegger is easily tarred as being the evil spawn of that education hating, promise-breaking, fireman-widow-starving, nurse
-pinching -kicking doofus.
Just say Schwarzenegger is “for” something, and it must be evil. If it’s a ballot proposition, voting “No” is a quick way to vote against all of Schwarzenegger’s thoughts and policies.
Okay. This close to the election, maybe it’s safe to argue your ballot case by arguing against the man.
But, what happens if there’s a terrorist attack in the state, an earthquake, or other event that calls for an action hero? Arnold looks great in front of cameras. The Terminator might become hugely personally popular overnight. Again.
Then all those ads tying the propositions to the governor will have a most unintended affect.
Of course, more importantly, I really wish that people would talk about the issues involved. It’s a piece of information to know that Gov. Schwarzenegger sponsored the initiative, but it’s not the whole story. He sponsored the budget-saving bonds the state’s voters and I approved of last year. So, tell me what’s different and wrong about his proposals this time around.
I don’t expect real analysis of the issues in ads anymore, I guess. But, even the teachers’ union ads talking about heartless principals decimating their lamb-like staff with unjustified firings without the consent of parents is a more honest and informed argument than simply smearing the proposition as being “Governor Schwarzenegger’s doings. (Having known an elementary school principal who was always anxious to find and support good staff, I do wonder what principal — or boss in general — would go around firing employees for the hell of it. And, I also wonder if parents and the public should be involved in all school personnel decisions. But, those are different questions.)
The State proposition book will be bed-time reading in the next couple weeks. I’ll note that the Governor is backing this or that, and I’ll check on the drug companies, trial lawyers, insurance industry, and the other usual suspects who have so thoroughly corrupted the initiative process through the use of paid signature gatherers. I’ll probably cast my standard vote “No” on most of the state and local issues.
But, to grab my attention in your ad, talk to me about the issues, even with one-sided emphasis. Don’t tell me to vote on your side because you’re nicer people than the other guys.