A mandate diminished

    Student fees at the University of California rose 30 percent this year because of an economic crisis under the watch of outgoing Gov. Gray Davis. With state businesses leaving at an alarming rate, an energy debacle and a corrupt governor with overall incompetence, voters had seen enough Gray. And as Arnold Schwarzenegger emerged as the clear winner in this historic recall, California’s ousting of Davis is not only good for the state, but good for UC students as well.

    Edgar Quintana/Guardian

    UC needs a fiscally responsible executive who is willing to curb spending, ensuring funds intended for UC will not be used to bankroll the multitude of wasteful California programs; this year’s fee hike need not repeat itself in the future. Of course, the budget crisis cannot be solved by more taxation ‹ spending more to meet the demands of more spending is utterly insane. There must be fiscal restraint, which Arnold has said he will bring to Sacramento. Furthermore, his ardent support of education lends credence to the belief that he will act in the interest of UC, not to mention do what’s in his power to reign in wayward California legislative spending that brought about the fee increases in the first place.

    It’s about time a Republican assumed the governorship of California to clean house. Arnold intends to do so, but what made him the winning Republican last Tuesday?

    There was another fiscally responsible conservative on the ballot, State Sen. Tom McClintock, and Republicans largely passed him by for the more socially liberal Terminator. But even though Arnold easily won, should McClintock have stepped aside prior to last week’s election?

    Yes.

    Looking at the numbers, Arnold pulled down 48.7 percent of the vote. Not bad, considering his closest opponent, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, fell well short by more than 15 points at 31.6 percent. But adding McClintock’s 13.4 to Arnold’s 48.7 nets Republicans over 62 percent of the vote, a commanding majority and as strong a message as Sacramento spenders have seen in quite a while.

    While we cannot assume that if McClintock dropped out, Arnold would have picked up the full 13.4 percent, he would certainly have pulled well into the high 50s. The Bush-Gore 2000 fiasco taught those who watch politics the importance of winning an election with conviction. We certainly must remember the calls of illegitimacy as Gore supporters informed the electorate, time and again, that Bush had not won the popular vote. Anti-Arnold pundits were heard grumbling during the campaign that the same thing is happening here.

    Support is crucial for governance after any election. Certainly, there can be calls that more Californians didn’t vote for Arnold than did. But to some Republicans, Arnold was seen as a waffling party member, not deserving of their vote. His stance on social issues, they argued, pits him against the true values of the Republican Party, and he is therefore not seen as fit for their support. They see both a financial and social crisis in the Golden State.

    Yet to fix the number-one issue facing California this day, social politics do not matter. Most of those who voted for Arnold understood this, and they followed a man that could actually win the election and govern from a position of authority to curb spending, possibly retaining some crumbs for the University of California. McClintock stole the latter away from Arnold.

    While it might not seem significant now, a politician earning less than an election-night majority certainly commands less respect. When the time comes for Arnold to throw his political weight around Sacramento following the leave of Davis, he just might be seen as a post-election bumbling Bush.

    Surely, had the vote been closer, yells of disenfranchisement would have rung all across California. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, even the American Civil Liberties Union had planned on suing over hanging chads. Florida, anyone? Lucky for Californians, their stated discrepancy and election-mongering only involved 176,000 ballots, well shy of the 868,000 vote difference in recalling Gray Davis.

    McClintock’s involvement in this election was not wise by any standard and most of his supporters were only voicing their anti-Arnold views. But this same anti-Arnold vote went against the very fiscal responsibility McClintock supporters purport to value. As a UC student, I’m glad McClintock’s effect on the election was marginal. But with the possibility of a 60-plus percent governing majority, Arnold’s political weight is indeed lessened, his mandate not as large. The real-world application of McClintock politics has yet to be seen, but if fees rise again next year, we might have McClintock to thank.

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