Friday, February 07, 2020

Political Power Grows Out Of The Barrel Of A Blog

Hey-hey, it's 2020 let's vote! As usual California is making it easy to do so, with an all-vote-by-mail primary. There's a lot of attention on this election: it's a big presidential one with a competitive Democratic primary, and, unlike many other years, California is participating in Super Tuesday, so our votes may actually matter for once.

I am a little curious about how this race will play out. Many of the candidates printed on my ballot have already officially dropped out of the race, and many Californians will vote before results in New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina (and, heck, maybe even Iowa!) are known. Depending on how early folks mail in their ballots, people who have dropped out and endorsed other candidates may still end up with a not-insignificant number of votes. And of course California's generous election rules (ballots only need to be postmarked by Election Day and will still count even if received a week later) may make it hard for people to determine who "won" California.

But, that's what makes this all exciting!

Without further ado, here's who I'm voting for.

President: Elizabeth Warren

I've been kind of obsessing over this race for years; but filling out this ballot is a gentle reminder that my vote in other races matters far more. More than five million California Democrats will be weighing in on who should lead our country in Washington, DC; just a few thousand will be deciding who should set the policies that impact our daily lives far closer to home.

I'll cheerfully support any nominee to come out of the primary heading into the general election. I think that Bernie Sanders has it right: we need to stop thinking of politics as something that happens once every four years. Instead, we need a continually engaged public movement applying constant pressure through the political system in order to achieve meaningful change. The good news is that, while some candidates will head into that office with better policies than others, every one of them will be vastly more receptive to public pressure to do the right things. We'll just need to work harder on some of them than others... but that's what democracy is all about, and we need to recognize that the ball is in our court.

Country Committee: Nick Akers, Ashleigh Evans, Sandra Lang, and David Burruto

14th Congressional District: Jackie Speier

I've been increasingly impressed at her performance in recent years. The Bay Area has a stellar congressional delegation, and Speier doesn't seem as visible as members like Zoe Lofgren, Anna Eshoo, Eric Swalwell, Ro Khanna, Barbara Lee or Nancy Pelosi. But Jackie has been a great voice in the #MeToo era, and I'm proud to have her representing me on Capitol Hill.

13th Senate District: Sally Lieber

An actual competitive race for once! I spent longer researching this than all other items put together (though still just a fraction of the attention I've paid to the presidential race, of course!). There are lot of good options here. I'm voting for Sally Lieber, who has a bold vision that includes implementing a single-payer healthcare system in California. She has previously served in the Assembly and delivered big wins like a minimum-wage increase, so I think she'll be able to hit the ground running in the state Senate. And it's hella cool that she's picked up the local DSA endorsement!

22nd Assembly District: Kevin Mullin

1st District Board of Supervisors: Dave Pine

Prop 13 ($15B bonds for school construction): No

Ever since reading Capital in the 21st Century I've grown even more bearish on the government borrowing money to fund projects: it accelerates inequality by taxing the population and paying interest to the already-wealthy people buying muni bonds. We badly need to return to a system where we (gasp) tax ourselves and (gasp!) spend the money on things that need to be done. Unfortunately, California's past idiocy has made the more frugal and moral tax-and-spend vastly more difficult than the wasteful and immoral borrow-and-spend. Still, we need to stop this sometime, and I'm starting now.

Measure L ($385M bonds for school upgrades): No

See above. We need to repeal all of Prop 13, not least the asinine requirement for a 2/3 vote for local taxes. Bonds are Bad, Taxes are Terrific!

Now, let's grade me on how well I voted last time:

I grudgingly approve of the job Gavan Newsom is doing. I'll probably never admire him the same way I did Jerry Brown, but he's been more forceful than his predecessor on some important issues. I'm particularly excited by the pressure he's currently applying to PG&E, and am dreaming of a world where the people literally take back their power.

Xavier Becerra is killing it, too. Most of the headlines related to him are the "California Sues Trump!!" variety, but he's no showboat, and is working hard on local issues and implementations of law. I recently heard a great interview about how his office is gearing up to crack down on CCPA violations, and he's coming out swinging against Uber and Postmates in defense of AB 5. He's also using his office to slow or block the controversial selling of the .org top-level domain registry to a greedy private equity firm. More of this, please!

On a more sour note, I'm regretting my support of Feinstein over Kevin de Leon. She isn't terrible, but she's far from the best our state has to offer. I am glad to have Kamala Harris representing us, and look forward to a newer, more responsive generation of leadership.

I'm thrilled that Prop 6 failed! I think that really helps show how much smarter and better Californians are today than they were in the 70s: There was literally a ballot measure that asked "Do you want to lower your taxes?" and people voted "No" en masse. It gives me enormous hope for the future.

The Measure II failure kills me. 62% of residents voted to support it, and it still failed! We need to repeal Prop 13 yesterday. It is good to see that the city council is still moving forward and identifying funding, but geez, this dumb state.

And I'm correspondingly thrilled that Measure W passed. It needed 66.67%, and got 66.87%! This dumb state, but this great county, I'm proud of you. I've already seen first-hand some of the great improvements this has enabled: electric buses, the return of the ECR Rapid express service, and the return of the airport shuttle. Those last two services were eliminated during the 2008 recession, which blew up the county's asinine insistence on funding transportation solely through their general revenue services (see also: their shameful treatment of BART). As noted before on this blog, in an ideal world I would prefer progressive funding over a regressive sales tax, but sales tax revenues are far more predictable and less volatile than those based on Silicon Valley profit-sharing, and until we have a better system for smoothing out the spending from progressive income (or wealth!) taxes over many years, I'm glad that we'll have a solid sales tax to rely on.

That's that! On the whole I feel pretty happy with how things turned out in 2018, let's keep this party going!

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