Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Taking yes for an answer

At the last HANC meeting---a post-election bull-session---Robert Haaland offered a mild rebuke to Calvin Welch and Tim Redmond, saying that the city's left needed to grow up. As a left-wing member of the Democratic Party, he should take his own advice. Haaland and the folks who contribute to the blog on his website seem to be indulging in a counterproductive self-righteousness over Governor Schwarzenegger's move to the left after his drubbing at the polls last November. The governor is moving our way on most everything, so why not suspend judgment to see if he's sincere?

Sasha has some choice words for those, like Mayor Newsom, who think Schwarzenegger is sincere:

Note to people who are impressed by Arnold’s “shift to the center (or ‘center-left’)”: This is the same guy who three months ago was fighting against women’s right to choose, against the right of working people to represent themselves, against the people who teach our kids and for a massive transfer of power to the Executive Branch. He’s vetoed a minimum wage hike and gay marriage. He tried to eliminate lunch[sic]. Now that he needs to be reelected he suddenly believes the opposite of all these things. Do you trust him? I sure as hell don’t.

Of course it would be foolish to rely only on what the governor is saying, but I will be impressed if the governor's political conversion turns out to be real. Mayor Newsom is apparently already impressed: "He's becoming a Democrat again...It's a good sign for him and a bad sign for the Democratic Party...He gets it. He's learned his lesson...He's running back, not even to the center---I would say center-left." (Carla Marinucci, SF Chronicle, Jan. 17, 2005) A premature judgment, perhaps, but if the mayor is right it will be good for California.

For his part, the governor had this to say at the MLK Day lunch yesterday:

I learned how wrong I was when I said that everyone has an equal opportunity in America. As a matter of fact, I would drive around and give speeches and say, "If an Austrian like me, a farm boy who came over here and didn't even speak English, if I could make my dreams become a reality, if that can happen to someone like me it can happen to anyone. All you have to do is work hard." But how wrong I was, how wrong I was. When I started promoting the inner city games and the after-school programs in the inner city schools, I saw that they did not have the equal opportunity. They were not given the equal chance. They did not have the equal teachers. They did not have the textbooks. They did not have the homework material. I realized how wrong I was, that I had all of those things when I grew up in Austria. I had great teachers. I had all of the books that we needed. That's what gave me the foundation to believe in myself, to come to America. We're not there yet, but we will be there. When a baby is born, that is when equality has to start, not when you are 20 or 30. You must fight for equality for every child when they are five, and six, and seven-years-old. This is what we have to fight for.

That sounds sincere to me, especially this: "When a baby is born, that is when equality has to start, not when you are 20 or 30." Having Willie Brown introduce him was another indication that both a change of policy and a change of heart may be underway. Of course it's too early to reach that conclusion, and only time will tell.

But Democrats have to be ready to take yes for an answer.

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