Tuesday, November 08, 2005

As the polls close...

...well, in an hour, anyway, in California...It looks like the Virginia and N.J. governors' races have gone blue. Yay!

Meanwhile, here in kooky-Cali, I find I harbor a surprisingly deep-seated resistance to direct democracy - at least, California-style, proposition-happy direct democracy. I just voted "no" to 6 of the 8 propositions on the ballot, and abstained from voting on the only 2 on which I was leaning towards voting "yes." Fundamentally, even if I have some sympathy to the aims, I just don't think this is how laws should be enacted.

It's not that I have particularly deep faith in the ability of legislators to act in my interests - I don't - or that I fail to appreciate the partisan gridlock between Schwarzenegger and Sacramento that's produced this stupid and very expensive "special election." But for all their flaws, it's the legislators' *job* - not mine - to weigh, analyze, and research the implications of every law they create. Do they often do a lousy job of this? Undoubtedly. Do their aides tell them what to think more than half the time? Probably. Do they pander to special interest groups? Absolutely. Nonetheless, it is still *their* responsibility, and in most cases I simply don't think Joe Schmoe or I have the requisite knowledge to take it from them. (The one exception is redistricting, addressed below.)

Anyway, the rundown:

Prop. 73 (Parental notification for abortions by minors): No. Believe it or not, I am actually sympathetic to the intent behind this measure. But I don't think it will have any practical benefit: girls with good relationships with their parents will probably tell them anyway, and girls with bad relationships are only going to be hurt by it. Also, the law seems to be trying to sneak an anti-abortion definition of "life" into the CA Constitution, which, while not necessarily wrong from my own personal point of view, certainly shouldn't be cemented this way.

Prop. 74 (Public school teachers: making it easier to fire them, right now it's bureaucratic and expensive): Abstained. I don't think this is necessarily a bad idea, but it seems to unfairly target teachers as only one part of a systemic problem. Also, see gut reaction against becoming a lawmaker, above.

Prop. 75 (Placing stricter restrictions on public employee union dues): Voted no for similar reasons for abstention on Prop. 74 - not necessarily a bad idea, but why target the unions in particular? Because Schwarzie's not getting anywhere with them in the way. I feel your pain, guv'nor, but you're just gonna have to deal.

Prop. 76 (Limiting state spending limits, new budgetary powers to Governor): HELLS no - this gives *way* too much power to the Governator.

Prop. 77 (Redistricting: having retired judges rather than legislators draw election districts): Abstained. The one proposition I came very, very close to voting for, and the only one that in my opinion has any business being on the ballot - mainly because this is the one kind of law that no legislature would ever pass. Why didn't I vote yes? Partly because some people whose opinion I respect seem very opposed to it, partly because this measure, too, would amend the CA Constitution, which I'm leery of doing in this manner. Partly, also (I'll admit) because I'm a Democrat, and I don't see Texas reforming their redistricting process any time soon! Still, I won't be crying if this measure passes.

Props 78 and 79 (Prescription drug discounts): No and no. Prop. 78 being the toothless alternative the pharm companies were touting, that one was clearly out. Prop. 79 seems more consumer-oriented, but this is *precisely* the type of devil-in-the-details legislation that Joe Schmoe and I are ill-equipped to evaluate.

Prop. 80 (Utility regulation): No. See objection to Prop. 79.


And as long as I'm being politically minded, I have been monitoring with increasing incredulity the IRS's investigation into the All Saints Episcopal Church (local, of Pasadena) for an anti-war sermon delivered 2 days before the pres. election last year. Churches, as tax-exempt organizations, aren't supposed to endorse political candidates, and apparently the sermon, which was on the theme of what Jesus would say to Bush about the war (essentially, that it was immoral), is considered close enough to the line to warrant closer examination. Give me a fucking break. How many church sermons do you suppose there were the night before the election urging parishioners to vote for their moral values, i.e., no abortion and no gay marriage? Is the IRS going to investigate all of those? Maybe when hell freezes over...


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