There's going to be an election here in California next Tuesday. You can feel it in the air. You can see it on the streets. You can find it stuffed into your mailbox. Even as Al Gore invites us to listen to his "Inconvenient Truth," we find ourselves buried under a giant Sequoia's worth of leaflets, flyers and pamphlets. It makes me think of the unholy irony of the bulky mailers my wife gets with frightening regularity from the "Save The Redwoods" foundation.
I'm tired of all the paper. I've stopped reading most of it since one flyer will contradict another in a stack of twenty dislodged from my mailbox this afternoon. These days you have to be clever how you align yourself in California politics. It's generally a good idea to distance yourself from "The Governator," but it's still important to tout your ability to work in bipartisan cooperation with the powers that be. When the phone rings now, I know it's a fifty-fifty shot that there will be a recorded voice on the other end spitting vitriol or shaming me for not seeing things their way.
Some of the nastiest bits are flying around Oakland's mayoral race. The three front runners seem content to gnaw on each other's entrails while three lesser known candidates shout from the relative safety of obscurity. Arnie Fields, Ron Oznowicz, and Hector Renya all believe they have what it takes to run a city. Fields, who condemns the current city government as dysfunctional and corrupt, promises to "rock the establishment" by uniting Oaklanders and keeping the Oakland A's from moving to Fremont. Oznowicz, who has participated in most of the mayoral debates, said he decided to run for mayor after realizing the city needed a chief executive officer — someone to wrangle the bureaucracy while keeping an eye on the big picture. Reyna attends most of the council meetings, his black stretch limo plastered with campaign signs and bumper stickers supporting President Bush parked outside of City Hall. His remarks often end with him shouting at council members and being escorted from the microphone by an Oakland police officer.
The main thing I take away from all of this is that slice of the American Dream that tastes like anyone can grow up to be President - or Mayor. And after June sixth, they can stop stuffing my mailbox and calling my house.