In 1995 Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was re-elected to a seven year term with 99.96 percent of the vote. In 2002, Saddam’s “popularity” spiked even higher and 11,445,638 Iraqis cast their ballots for the mustached dictator, equaling 100 percent of the eligible vote.
These results were taken seriously by exactly one person on planet earth — Saddam Hussein. Everyone else dismissed them as a total joke, and “everyone” includes P.T. Barnum’s proverbial suckers, people who just fell off the turnip truck, and everybody who was born yesterday.
Hussein apparently missed the part of Bad Government 101 where they were taught how to fix elections. After all, even when there is a predetermined outcome you need to at least have the appearance of legitimacy.
For a case study on how to do it correctly, look no farther than the California Legislature.
Currently, Democrats have a two-thirds majority in both the state Assembly and Senate. If they can keep their caucus together, Democrats can pass anything they want with enough votes to override a gubernatorial veto or surpass the constitutional threshold to raise taxes.
The problem that the Democrats have, in theory, is that some of their members are self-described “moderates” and have promised their constituents back home that they would curb the impulses of the liberals in leadership to over-regulate and strangle the state with excessive taxation. Many of these members represent red or purple districts.
Away from Sacramento, these members present themselves as independent thinkers who are willing to vote their district instead of the party line.
In reality, their votes are owned by leadership, lock stock and barrel. Leadership controls what committees they sit on and who gets highly cherished campaign cash.
The understanding that leadership has with its so-called moderate members is that they’re allowed to vote their district only when that vote isn’t needed. But when it is needed on an important piece of legislation, the member has to come through, regardless of how unpopular the bill is back home.
This game of legislative kabuki theater was on full display during the recent push to raise the state gas tax by 12 cents a gallon, hike vehicle fees and raise taxes on diesel.
When all of the negotiating and arm-twisting was finished, only two Democrats bucked leadership and voted against the tax hikes: State Senator Steve Glazer of Orlinda and Assemblyman Rudy Salas of Bakersfield. For that they deserve a profile in courage. Meanwhile, other allegedly “moderate” Democrat Assembly members Al Muratsuchi of Manhattan Beach, Tim Grayson of Concord, Jim Cooper of Elk Grove, Sharon Quirk-Silva of Fullerton and Sabrina Cervantes of Riverside all voted aye. And the bill passed, with just enough votes.
Immediately following the vote, the Sacramento Bee reported that Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher of San Diego rushed over to Salas’ desk, stuck her finger in his face and let him have…