I woke this morning at 5:50 am to some low level cries of my two year old son. When I rubbed his back, said "It's okay," and put him back to sleep, I felt deep in my bones the world was a little better after Arnold Schwarzenegger's Goliath-like collapse in yesterday's special election. The LA TImes online banner headline describing Schwarzenegger's defeat read like my toddler's vocabulary: "No,No,No,No,No,No, No,No"
Around mid night last night I watched the final returns show Schwarzenegger lose all 6 ballot measures he backed in the special election he called as I drank Mai Tais with the California Nurses at their Trader Vics' "Aloha Arnold" Lua. Schwarzenegger had spun survival from the jaws of defeat for the cameras earlier, before the final tally was in, on the other side of the Beverly Hilton. When the nurses watched unionbusting Prop 75 fall from 50% support to 49.9% we finally tore into the roasted suckling pig with the face of Arnold's corporate donors on it that had been layed out all night under the "Aloha Arnold" banner in anticipation of Arnold's sendoff. The nurses in their aloha scrubs and money leis celebrated after walking precincts that day. And after kicking the butt of the Governor who publicly called them special interests about a year ago and said then he was giving them a butt kicking. As California Nurses leader Rose Ann Demoro told her troops, "The shoe's now on the other foot."
Schwarzenegger's fall from grace and his disgrace in yesterday's extra California election could be a rallying cry for progressives across the nation to seize on the populist anger at the arrogance of power that Arnold initially exploited for his own ends. If progressives look closely at last night's Schwarzenegger slaying, they could topple Goliaths of all kinds that threaten their mores, their money, their planet, and sometimes their lives. Arnold rose and fell based on the power of populism he stold from progressives who have been happier in their arm chairs than putting their ideas on ballots for the people to vote on. The nurses, cops, teachers, and firefighters beat Arnold by displaying their humanity. By showing they were the true action heroes that protected the public and they had the right to organize for unity through unions, to stop Schwarzenegger's budget power grabs for the rich and wealthy, and to be represented by a system of checks and balances not merely a celebrity with a grudge and 70 million in corporate cash. And they could only do it by putting aside their grudges and working togther. Sure they spent a lot of money on tv, but they proved once and for all the public doesn't buy Schwarzenegger's notion that working people are special interests.
What's next after the luau? The hardwork of keeping unity among progressives and forcing Democrats to advance an agenda that deals with the public's real anger. The need for getting money out of politics and public financing of elections. The lack of universal health coverage and high cost of health care. Gas prices. The real problem with public education. Last night I did a see a wherewolf howl over pina coladas at trader vic's. It was the heart and soul of progressive populism coming back to life.