Roger L. Simon

Is California Insane?

One of the famous definitions of insanity is repeating the same mistake over and over again while expecting a different result. Whether that’s a perfect definition is open to debate, but one thing is certain: it’s as accurate a description of the California electorate at this moment in 2010 as you could get.

How else to explain that Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer are still leading Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina by 5.4% and 3.3% (RCP averages) in a state where unemployment is 12.4% (not including the underemployed and the astronomical number that have already given up), and from which businesses are fleeing like rats from the proverbial sinking ship? Even the storefronts on swanky Rodeo Drive are standing empty.

Nevertheless, a plurality of the voters still want the same old, same old. I thought it was supposed to be the economy, stupid. It’s not as if Whitman and Fiorina are implausible candidates in a time of economic crisis. They’re ex-CEOs.

Crazy, no? How do you explain it? Sure Whitman and Fiorina have made mistakes in their campaigns, but so have their opponents. And with the state nearing bankruptcy, you would think minor campaign flubs would pale into insignificance.

So is it the mainstream media fuddy-duddy liberal obfuscation thing? That’s part of it, I guess, but given the extent of  the layoffs at the state’s largest newspaper, the Los Angeles Times, which have been going on for some time now, you’d think even the media class would be waking up.

Alas, no. The truth is California — the land built on the future — has become stunningly averse to change.

It is a depressed place made up of terrified people, clinging to the solutions of another era. The idea that the electorate could even consider electing Jerry Brown in 2010 attests to that. At least you can understand the union workers — who are desperate to maintain their unsustainable pensions — supporting him, but the rest of the populace? You are dealing with a form of habituation so deep reality has no place in the equation.

California now is the state of the childishly threatened. No one seems to have an imagination anymore, particularly Hollywood, the industry that depends on imagination. They are backing Jerry with a tenacity that makes no sense. Hollywood was built on entrepreneurship, yet they abjure Whitman, one of the most successful entrepreneurs of our time.

What do these entertainment kingpins think will happen if Jerry Brown is elected? Do they think things will change? Do they want things to change or do they like things the way they are? Don’t look for the answers to these questions. Habit and tradition prevail into oblivion.

Indeed, to return to my premise, the situation is clear: as of now, California’s electorate is “repeating the same mistake over and over again while expecting a different result.” They used to say California was crazy because everyone was whacked out on acid or buzzed on coke. That’s nothing compared to now.