It’s over. What’s next?


From the Publisher/Arnold G. York

It’s finally over. We went to the polls and, despite all the dire predictions, a very large number of Americans cast their ballots in a more or less orderly manner, and by the end of the day we all knew who the winner was. And the next morning the sun rose, the republic was still standing and I started eating carbohydrates to assuage my grief from the results. By the end of the week, I felt much better and had put on five pounds. I suspect if I could eat unlimited carbos, I’d probably end up a Republican.

So what’s it all about and what’s coming next?

When I looked into my crystal ball this is what I saw:

Internationally, the war will go on, I suspect, for several years. It’s far from clear how we will extricate ourselves and what it’s going to cost in troops and money. We’re probably going to need more troops and it’s going to be harder for the president to extend the term of service of the National Guards and the Reserve without a big political upheaval, which means the anti-war movement will grow. We can expect some more significant budget distress to pay for the war, which means domestically, programs are going to be cut. Our safety net is going to go so the Iraqis can have their safety net. Despite our support of the current Iraqi government and the joint session of Congress, I have a sneaky feeling that the current Iraqi government wouldn’t last 20 minutes without our troops in the field, which is why there is a big push to break the back of the insurgency now. So look for the war to really pick up steam.

Bush was implying a kinder, gentler America again in his post election speech. His nominee to the Supreme Court will show whether he means it. When the Supreme Court opening occurs, if he picks a hard right, anti-choice conservative, it’s going to be war. If he picks a more moderate nominee, it would soften the opposition. But it was the pro-life groups that helped get him into office, and it’s going to be very difficult for Bush to put up a moderate. He might very well try a hardliner first and if he or she doesn’t make it, come back with a more moderate choice the second time. If it is Chief Justice William Rehnquist who retires (or forced by illness to leave his post), I’d guess that he’d elevate someone from the court to be CJ, like Anthony Kennedy or even Sandra Day O’Connor.

Bush will try to reorder Social Security, but it will turn out to be a can of worms. There are so many competing interests that they’ll never agree on anything of significance. The opposition may pop up in strange places. The most conservative of fund managers may be very skeptical of the federal government being deeply involved in the market, or extending its regulatory reach into the market to protect Social Security funds. There is no way the government could stand idly by while a great deal of senior citizens take a bath in the market and see their retirement security slip away. So with Social Security involvement comes closer governmental supervision, which is going to make a great deal of people nervous.

Despite the deficit, look for more tax cuts and higher fees and maybe even a great big philosophical shift in the tax code, like a flat tax. The economic theories will abound. I figure Bush has got about two years to do whatever it is he wants to do, because at that time he becomes a lame duck.

Well, the Democratic Party is going to change also. We may be slow, but we aren’t stupid and we can count. You can expect to see some of the more Southern, mid-Western, boot wearing, thigh slapping holy rollers than you’ve seen in the Democratic party in years. They’re going on a major talent hunt to find those men and women from those smaller, less urban states who look more like the rest of the people in those red states and raise them to glory.

Here in the state of California there is going to be a bunch of changes also. The governor had good success with propositions-11 out of the 12 he supported won-and poor success with candidates, since not one incumbent got knocked off. It’s almost a slam-dunk that the governor will come up with a reapportionment plan to have the state reapportioned by a bipartisan group of retired judges or some similar plan. And the upshot will be that if it passes, the Republicans will pick up a few seats, but only a few, in the state Senate and the Assembly. They may even tinker with the term limits law and also, perhaps, begin to do something about amending Proposition 13, which will raise a storm.

Proposition 66 (reform of three strikes law) will come back in another form, perhaps a little better thought out. And being pushed by the Democrats, particularly Attorney General Bill Lockyer who wants to be governor, I suspect it will have a better chance of passage. We may also see changes in the attorney general’s office and even in some of the district attorneys’. Elliott Switzer in New York has shown that being a prosecutor can be a bully pulpit and he may just be changing the rule book. Look for a prosecutor or two, at least some with political ambition and some nerve, to start taking on some of the sacred business cows of our world.

Locally, Measure S passed and $25 million is going to be spent in Malibu. I’m betting that sooner, rather than later, we’ll see a park in the Civic Center. You’re also going to see more entities like cities trying to partner up with school districts, since school district bonds only require a 55 percent approval for passage. I can see some very strange school bond measures headed our way on future ballots.

Well, there you have it. The best part of making these long-term predictions is that if I’m wrong, you’ll never remember what I said anyway.