There's got to be a morning after
If we can hold on through the night
We have a chance to find the sunshine
Let's keep on lookin' for the light
--All Kasha and Joel Hirshhorn
OK. It was an awful movie. And Shelly Winters was way too fat. And the title song (The Morning After) could plunge anyone into diabetic shock (though Maureen McGovern sang it well enough)--but, oddly, there is lesson to be learned from the song as the nation and California prepares for Election 2010.
All too often, it seems as if people cast their ballots without giving all that much thought to what comes the morning after. They vote based on party or to mollify anger or to calm fear. And then, lo and behold, they sometimes are shocked... just shocked... by what their vote has brought about.
Because, you see, while the morning after can, and sometimes does, provide a "chance to find the sunshine," it can also be the starting point for gathering storm clouds.
This may be one of the most non-partisan blog posts you are likley to read this mid-term election year. But I think it is an important one. My message is simple: Whoever you vote for--whatever you vote for--make sure you think it through and are comfortable with the outcome on the morning after.
Here in California, if you vote for Jerry Brown for Governor, then don't act surprised when you wake up one day and "discover" that most politicians don't really change that much over the years and that the Brown who ran the state of California for two terms as its governor is likely to run California pretty much the same way now. Doesn't matter whether you think that is good or bad. It just is true.
If you are voting, instead, for Meg Whitman, don't act shocked when you--and she--learn that you really can't run a state the way you run a business. That a business is a dictatorship and a state is a messy democracy with a dizzying array of interest groups that need to be catered to.
On the Senate side, if you are voting for Barbara Boxer, don't act surprised by anything she does if re-elected, because she has been in political office so damn long that for her there is just about nothing new under the sun... and that includes a fresh approach to pretty much anything.
But if you cast your lot with Carly Fiorina, don't imagine that someone with zero political experience is going to all of a sudden learn on the job quickly enough to really get things done. A certain non-politician former movie star already tried that here in California, and can anyone make a convincing case that the state is better off now than before Governor Arnold first took office? Washington politics is even crazier, and harder to master.
The worst thing about California is our legislation by initiative. Most states don't do it this way, and they are right!
But since we do, here, then you really owe it to yourself and your fellow Californians to think through what your vote might mean the morning after.
Want to vote for Prop 19 to legalize marijuana in California? Fine. Just fully come to terms with all the possible negatives--including a virtual war with the federal government which, in the end, comes down to more tax dollars being spent on law enforcement.
Planning on voting against Prop 19? Fine. Just understand that this is probably on the wrong side of history and that keeping marijuana illegal is only enabling criminal cartels controlling the markets to grow that much stronger with each passing year.
Let me restate here--this post is not about voting Democratic or Republican or advocating for or against any particular proposition on Tuesday's ballot. What it is about is the morning after. When you go to vote, which I hope you do (if you haven't already) try to think just a little bit beyond the next 24 hours. Think about what your vote might mean not only the morning after, but the month after and the year after and the year after that!
Charles Feldman is a journalist, media consultant and co-author of the book, "No Time To Think-The Menace of Media Speed and the 24-Hour Media Cycle." He has covered politics and police in Los Angeles since 1995 and is a regular contributor of investigative reports to KNX1070 Newsradio.