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You want to be involved in government? Start by voting

Submitted by on Wednesday, 30 September 2009 No Comment

Whatever chance former eBay exec Meg Whitman has of getting my vote for governor dwindled to zero this week with her series of “dog ate my homework” excuses for not having registered to vote until seven years ago.

“I was focused on raising a family, on my husband’s career, and we moved many, many times,” she told reporters last week. “It is no excuse. My voting record, my registration record, is unacceptable.”

Let’s see, I’m raising a family. I’m literally living in the middle of my husband’s career right now, while maintaining mine as well. I’ve lived at 14 addresses since becoming an adult – some were within the same city, but that still required re-registering in most cases. I’m not legally registered at the moment, but there’s no election this fall that I could legally vote in anyway.

But then, I don’t have to play the “raising kids and supporting my man” card. I’m not a career woman trying to win the Republican nomination in a state with swaths of conservatives who veer so hard right they’d never have a chance as a NASCAR driver because under no circumstances could they bring themselves to go left.

Her second attempt at an explanation – one that relied on her business credentials – was even worse.

“When I came to eBay, what I saw was the incredible difficulties that government created for small business … inspired individuals who created business who got slapped down by taxation, by bureaucracy and regulation,” she said Tuesday.

So for all these years, she couldn’t see any connection between government policy and her children’s futures, yet when she makes it big in the corporate world she’s suddenly interested? And even then, the interest wasn’t all that sudden – remember, she didn’t register until four years after becoming eBay’s CEO.

Candidates need not  be career politicians to be qualified for office – there’s a lot to be said, in fact, for having a few folks around who are at least as capable of governing as they are at fund-raising. But people who want to hold office do have to demonstrate some record of having an interest in the world beyond the tips of their noses.

California’s problems are deep and profound at the moment. The tax structure is whacked – it would be even if there weren’t a recession – and its political system might well mean it’s flat ungovernable. Governing the state is no job for someone totally lacking in institutional and contextual memory, someone lacking the vision to see the clear connection between voting, politics and the people.

Thanks for stopping by for the audition, Meg. Who’s next?

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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