Gordon Gekko for Governor of California?

All the buzz about the primary results in California, and across the country, tonight are about how this may yet be the “year of the woman,” but one thing comes across loud and clear from California, this is certainly the year of the corporations. As of June 8, the Republican nominee for Senate is Carly Fiorina whose name is synonymous with Hewlett Packard. And, in the governor’s corner is Meg Whitman, Madame E-Bay.

Consider the irony in a state that is home to the highest foreclosure rate in the country, that has taken twice the amount of government bailout money as Michigan and New York, two of the three states in the top rungs of economic sewage, yes, and in a year which has witnessed a populist revolt against big business, the Republican Party is delivering two candidates, one for governor and the other for the Senate, both of whom are synonymous with big business.

Until 2008, Meg Whitman was the president and chief executive officer of E-Bay, and her Republican Party counterpart in the Senate, Carly Fiorina, was the CEO of Hewlett Packard. And, if the endorsement from Sarah Palin alone isn’t enough to make shivers run up and down your spine, think about this. Wasn’t it perfect timing for the Supreme Court to conveniently grant corporations the right to free speech just in time for a state governorship to go on the auction block?

The world of TV punditry has roundly proclaimed former California governor, Jerry Brown, to be a fighter. Well, the Democrats better come out swinging in the state that has an official unemployment rate creeping up to almost 14%, that has the highest gasoline prices in the country. What amount of television advertising would make people crazy enough to place not one, but two multizillionaires at the helm? Whitman would make Schwarzenegger look like a socialist by the time she’s done, too.

Wouldn’t you think California would have had enough of terminators? After watching all the Tea Party rallies over the past year, one would think people would be sick and tired of Enron, AIG, Chevron, Bank of America and, dare I say it, the E-Bay mentality? But, in keeping with the sado-masochistic dimension ever present in our foreign policy, maybe not.

How much more out of touch with the man, and woman, on the street is a Whitman or a Fiorina? Does the man in the street’s opinion matter especially in a state where, increasingly, the man in the street is fast becoming the man on the street? And, in the end, how much will that vote cost? Picturing Whitman running a serious campaign as a populist is like watching an episode of “Survivor” filmed at the Waldorf Astoria.

State Democrats need to show that voting for Meg Whitman only proves Wall Street is now bicoastal, and that if Gordon Gekko could, he would run for governor of California. It’s not just about corruption; it’s about corruptibility.

Survivor TV is one thing; survivor politics another.






JAYNE LYN STAHL is a widely published poet, essayist, playwright, and screenwriter, member of PEN American Center, and PEN USA.