Saturday, October 22, 2016

What To Think

Heh... I had totally forgotten that I used to always report my voting record on my blog. I missed the midterms (the reporting, not the voting), so let's get this train back on track!

Looking through the archives is kind of fascinating... hearing me sound so passionate about measures that I barely remember today, or sometimes wincing over predictions that turned out to be misplaced. I thought it might also be interesting to check back in and grade myself based on my prior voting record.

First up, though, the LONG ballot for 2016!

President/VP: Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine

Senator: Kamala Harris. (I really dig our Top Two primary system. Either candidate would be good, but I've been a big fan of Harris's ever since her early break with other Democrats back in 2008 when she threw her support behind Barack Obama. Since then she has continued to be a terrific advocate for Californians and a great exemplar of our values, and I think she'll be a worthy heir to Barbara Boxer's legacy.)

Representative: Jackie Speier

State Senator: Jerry Hill

State Assembly: Kevin Mullin

Judge: Sean Dabel

Health Care Board: Ricardo Navarro and Frank Pagliaro

Harbor Board: Virginia Chang Kiraly, Tom Mattusch, Sabrina Brennan, Ed Larenas

Prop 51 (School bonds): Probably the toughest one for me, but I ended up "No". We need this, but it should come through the legislature, and should have stronger guidelines to ensure that the schools which need the most help get priority access to the money. As-is, it seems like a giveaway to construction companies.

Prop 52 (Medi-cal fee): Yes.

Prop 53 (Require statewide vote for bonds of $2B+): Strong NO.

Prop 54 (Bills must be widely distributed 72 hours prior to voting): No. (I was planning on voting Yes before I realized it also requires printing them on paper, which just seems silly. A slightly modified version of this would be a slam-dunk. As it is, I don't think it's solving a particular problem we have, and adds some extra annoyances.)

Prop 55 (Maintain high tax rate on wealthy): Yes. I really wish these taxes went into the general fund instead of being earmarked for special programs, but we're still better off with it than we would be without.

Prop 56 (Raise cigarette taxes): Yes.

Prop 57 (Reduced sentences and easier parole): Yes. (My biggest problem with this is that there's a chance sexual assaults would be categorized as non-violent crimes and eligible for lighter treatment. Everything else in this is badly needed and long overdue, though. I'm voting "Yes" with the hopes of a sane interpretation of the law, and the expectation that a future bill could redefine those crimes if necessary.)

Prop 58 (Multilingual education): Yes.

Prop 59 (Say bad things about Citizens United): Yes.

Prop 60 (Mandate condoms in porn): No.

Prop 61 (Prescription drug prices): No. (Too many unknowns with this one for my tastes. It's a risky gambit that, even in the best case, would only incrementally improve the status quo.)

Prop 62 (Repeal the death penalty): Yes.

Prop 63 (Strengthen gun laws and stroke Gavin Newsom's ego): Yes.

Prop 64 (Legalize marijuana): Yes.

Prop 65 (Bag fees must go to environmental fund): No.

Prop 66 (Accelerate death penalty): No. (I think it'll be ironic if the presence of this pro-death-penalty bill finally prompts Californians to repeal it with Prop 62. They've always voted that down in the past, but having competing propositions on the ballot may make it seem like a more binary issue, and I think sentiment is closer to 62 than 66.)

Prop 67 (Ban plastic bags): Yes.

Measure K (Maintain half-cent sales tax): Yes. (Again, I wish this would just go into the general fund without all the rhetoric about special programs, but it's still worth extending.)

Californian democracy is fun!

Okay, let's take a look at the wayback machine now for 2012:

No particular regrets about voting for Feinstein, but seeing Boxer go makes the contrast between the two all the more profound. I really hope that in 2018 she either steps down or has a vigorous Democratic challenger who is less enamored of surveillance and secrecy.

Interesting to see Prop 30 and Measure A coming back so soon. It makes me wonder whether the original authors had planned all along to make an extension like this... I personally would have voted to make them permanent in the first place, but it seems psychologically a lot more compelling to say "Vote for this, it only lasts six years!" and then follow that up with "You know that thing you've already been paying for four years? Can we keep it for another ten?"

Prop 31: So happy this passed! State government has gotten so much more efficient and accountable now that they can actually pass budgets.

Measure B: I voted against this, but in retrospect am happy that it passed. I'm more cognizant now of how our old system disadvantaged minority voters and other under-represented groups.

Ugh... I don't mind saying that I can hardly wait for this election to be over. It seems effectively finished, at least at the presidential level, but I'm still weirdly obsessed about it, constantly checking Twitter and opening private browser windows for the Washington Post and New York Times.

It's weird to think way back to 2004, when I was living in a swing state. I worked so hard, first in Howard Dean's grassroots campaign and then, reluctantly but emphatically, in John Kerry's general election push. As a lifelong introvert, it was terrifying to canvass and leaflet and otherwise assist in get-out-the-vote operations. It felt incredibly vital, especially in the context of the wars and the exploding deficit. After burning all of my available vacation time and personal energy, watching the results come in on election night may have been the nadir of my life. I'd tried harder than I'd ever tried before, and it wasn't enough to win my state or my country.

More than a decade later, living in California, elections feel completely different. There isn't the slightest question which way the state will go, for the President or Senate or most other things that affect national policy. I feel much less personal guilt and responsibility, but a lot more... ennui, I guess? The big decisions are going to come down to people who live in a dozen states or so, and apart from writing checks, there isn't much I can do to influence it.

California politics are internally fascinating, of course, and our initiative system means there's always plenty to think about and discuss. But the stakes can only be so high. I mean, don't get me wrong, I think we should ban plastic bags, but they're just plastic bags, y'know?

I still strongly feel the stakes, but no longer feel like I can affect the outcome. Which, in contrast to 2004, is actually kind of a good feeling: if things somehow go south, I won't need to worry that we could have had a different outcome if I'd pushed myself harder. I'm more or less acclimated to the idea of being a coastal liberal, passionate but ineffectual.

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