Commentary

The Politics of Confusion

I had predicted (alas not here) that George Schwartzman would get the most votes from among the “no-name” candidatesââ?¬â??and that’s what happened. With nearly 11,000 votes Schwartzman almost overtook “big name” candidate Gary Coleman. Of course my prediction isn’t that astounding, given the fact that Schwartzman so closely resembles Schwarzenegger and since he was listed just below Arnold on the ballot. I wonder how many of Schwartzman’s voters were really “disenfranchised” Arnold voters. I also suspect something might be fishy with the trouncing of Prop 53. I just don’t can’t imagine voters being so anxious to pummel a proposition that would have simply shifted a bit more money to infrastructure. If I remember correctly “NO” on Prop 53 was question number 187 on the ballot. Since this proposition received almost no media attention, it’s very likely that lots of voters really had no idea what Prop 53 was. I wonder how many people simply recalled Prop 187 (which would have denied certain social services to illegal immigrants). Since in California “187” is one of the most politically incorrect numbers around, I wonder if a substantial number of voters simply had a visceral reaction against it. Perhaps they saw “NO” and “187” and just stabbed away. Then again, I suppose you could argue that the confused voter who recalled Prop 187 did punch that number, and that could be interpreted as “voting” for 187. With all the bad press Prop 187 has received we forget that it did pass by a wide margin. So perhaps many confused voters still have warm feelings for that number. Another thing to consider is that “187” is (again, if I remember correctly) police code for killing an officer. So that might sway voters, too. In any event, I still say Prop 53 went down to such resounding defeat because of confusion. And if I’m confused and “NO” on 53 wasn’t question 187, that just supports my point even more.

Ted Balaker is an award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and founding partner of Korchula Productions, a film and new media production company devoted to making important ideas entertaining.