Relentless Pursuit of Wisdom and Liberty

The weblog companion of, dedicated to pondering, "If Patrick Henry could see us now..."

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Tom McClintock for Lt. Gov. - good or bad for small-government conservatives?

An excellent column about Tom McClintock, who looks to be running for Lt. Gov.:
Then, Wednesday night, suddenly everything changed. It was if the flashy governor were channeling his straight-laced colleague. Schwarzenegger's speech sounded almost as if McClintock had written it.
Now Schwarzenegger was saying that pension bloat, the guards union and other ills McClintock has spotlighted over the years were the heart of the state's problems. And with no apparent bitterness, McClintock endorsed the Schwarzenegger agenda.

Merit pay for excellent teachers? "I've always maintained that the public schools would work a lot better if we paid the best and the brightest more than the dullest and the laziest."

Pension reform? "It has to be done." McClintock voted for a similar plan almost 15 years ago that was undone by the 1999 bill he opposed. "Had it been left alone I doubt we would be facing the spiraling costs we are now."

Removing from legislators the power to draw their own political boundaries? "People with a direct stake in a decision should not be the ones making that decision. It's not fair to them, and they make lousy decisions."

Budget reform? McClintock might go further than the standby, across-the-board cuts Schwarzenegger has proposed, but he says the governor's plan will do the job. "It's a helluva lot better than what we have now," he said.

McClintock predicts that Schwarzenegger, if he stays the course, will prevail. But it won't be easy.
I supported Tom McClintock in the recall election in 2003, and an electable majority of the state agreed with me even though they fell prey to the "but only Arnold has a chance to win" hyperbole and sacrificed their principled votes to be able to be on the side of the winner. So now that he's running for Lt. Gov., I'm wondering if it's a good idea, from a small-government perspective. Where would his principles do the most good for California, in the Lt. Gov.'s office as a supporter of the Gov.'s proposals (and perhaps a principled enough supporter to keep the Governator on track and keep him from kowtowing too easily to Democrat compromises), or remaining in the state senate where he is a strong force for limited government, efficiency, and accountability?

One thing that has me worried is the fate of his senate seat if he's elected Lt. Gov. and the legislative districts are redrawn (which would be a manifestly good thing). I don't doubt in the slightest that McClintock would win re-election in a redrawn district (and bring on the competition in all the districts, I say), and the respect he recieves in that area would most likely transfer to a successor he would promote should the district not be redrawn. What worries me is the possibility that his favor wouldn't carry to a named successor quite broadly enough in a redrawn district, and that we might lose not only McClintock to the senate, but a like-minded successor to a Democrat at the same time.


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