Victoria and I had taken yesterday off to volunteer for the local Dems to get out the vote. Sadly, the local Dems were too poorly organized to take us up on our offer, so our big effort consisted of getting out our own votes. Candy walked us (about a mile downhill) to the polling place to turn in our absentee ballots yesterday afternoon. You’d think we could have filled them out and mailed them weeks ago, but as I’ve written many times before, it’s hard work being a good citizen in California.
First, we’ve got these bizarre relics of misguided populism called voter initiatives, aka propositions, meant to give the power back to the people but actually used either to catch hot potatoes thrown wimpy politicians or to ram crackpot lunacy down our throats, because who wants to buy politicians when you can buy your very own laws? My original policy was to vote No on all propositions, because it’s the wrong way to make law, but because there are the two kinds–actual decent laws that politicians won’t pass, usually because they involve taxes, and awful laws that are cleverly written to confuse the dickens out of even the smartest and best-educated voters–I’ve shifted to a new policy of researching which ones are which.
This year we had about a dozen of them, and it took me about four hours to figure it all out. I’m not sure if I got the right answer on two of them, but I did manage to be on the losing side of the most egregious one, basically exiling sex offenders from urban areas, so that those rural law enforcement agencies will have something to do with all their abundant resources. Never mind that sex offenders are such a trivially small part of the population that it would be cheaper and probably more effective to build them a nice resort in Oahu. We also resisted the urges to make cigarettes and gas more expensive, because although we love regressive taxes, we apparently don’t buy what economists have been saying for years, that if cigarettes and gas were more expensive, a few more people would decide that emphysema and SUVs aren’t worth it. (I don’t get it. An ugly rumor must have gotten out that economists are French or something.)
On the other hand, we did win six of our seven possible new taxes, told the parental notification zealots to start weaving their handbaskets, and told a New York real estate magnate where to shove his eminent domain ploy.
Second, there’s the judicial elections. I still don’t have a method for these. Our ballots list dozens of sitting judges on whose retention we get to vote yes or no. An hour of googling plus conversations with three progressive-minded lawyers left me no better informed on the matter. Many of us therefore adopt a “First do no harm” strategy of skipping most of them. There has got to be a better way to staff the courts.
Anyway, back to our walk to the polling place, we were pleased to run into three neighbors, all of whom made subtle indications that it was time to have Dubya taken out and fed to the hogs. We tried to get a ballot for Candy (an Oakland citizen, with tags to prove it) but were turned down. Her spirits picked up on the long schlepp back uphill, though, when she found not one but two tennis balls. About an hour later we were home, drenched in sweat and well spattered with dog slobber. Democracy is aerobic when you live in Montclair.
At the end of Oakland East Bay Symphony rehearsal last night, the conductor’s parting words were, “Well, let’s go home and see if we need to move out of the country tomorrow.” With the House regained and the Senate close, I’m happy to report that I no longer feel the need to spend today researching Canadian immigration law.
I don’t even mind that we reelected our Governator. Sadly, it was probably the right outcome–the alternative was an uninspired crook, and the actor was never as bad as we’d feared. Lately he’s actually been good. Let’s hope it wasn’t a cynical ploy to get reelected so he’d get four more years to scurry back to the right. For the first time in my life I cast a protest vote for the Green guy, joining a proud 2.3% minority, since I knew there wasn’t the least chance of my vote actually making a difference in the outcome.
In goofier moments for Left Coast pride, both Berkeley and San Francisco resoundingly passed measures to impeach Bush and Cheney, and our own Jerry Brown has added another title to his resume, making him Governor Mayor Attorney General Moonbeam.
I’m starting to believe in our republic again. I think I’ll go buy a flagpole, so I can hoist the stars and stripes for the first time in many years.