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Monday, February 25, 2002

It's easier to shed my principles when I'm put on the spot. I've been wavering on Proposition 45, the modification of term limits, on principle. I didn't want to seem to endorse term limits by voting for a measure that would change but not eliminate them. This one would allow voters to vote on whether or not they can vote again for someone who has already served the limited number of terms allowed by the term limit laws. Clear?

The Boss called this morning and asked what I thought of this proposition, and instead of hemming and hawing over it I made a decision. Oh, I'm going to vote for that one, I said, because I don't like term limits. And I told him why: because they limit the people's right to vote for the person they want to. I didn't think about that other more theoretical principle. I thought about the practical notion that we need to give ourselves more freedom to reelect the legislators we like.

Seriously. The Boss wanted to talk politics on a Monday morning. I had a thousand other things to do, and he probably won't be able to vote anyway. He hasn't even requested an absentee ballot yet and doesn't plan to return from Nevada before the election, so there's almost no chance he'll vote on these issues.

He didn't want to talk about candidates. "I want to vote for the Republicans," he told me. I didn't bother to tell him that since it's a primary, all the candidates on his ballot would be Republicans. If he wanted to vote for the most inflexible rightwing extremist Republican, I'd have to do some extra research. But I would have done it on his time, not mine.

Everybody wants to know how I'm voting, right? I've spent about ten minutes studying the candidates and issues in this election, so I feel qualified to give my opinions. I don't have much more time anyway, if I expect my ballot to get to the county clerk's office before next Tuesday's deadline. So here goes, each issue distilled to its primary essence.

Since I'm a lifelong liberal who believes in throwing money at problems (and hoping some of it sticks), I'll be voting yes on Proposition 40, The California Clean Water, Clean Air, Safe Neighborhood Parks and Coastal Protection Act of 2002. How could I vote against all those wonderful things? The Audubon Society, the League of Women Voters and the Congress of California Seniors signed the ballot pamphlet argument in favor of it. The rebuttal is by some Southern California politicians who resent the fact that some of the money goes to the Bay Area.

Proposition 41 is a bond measure that would help counties modernize voting equipment. The only arguments against this are by people who don't want to spend public money on anything. I don't listen to people who don't believe in government at all. After all the ranting I did about the 2000 presidential election, I'd be a little hypocritical to vote against this one. It's the anti-chad law, and I'll vote yes.

Proposition 42 calls itself the Transportation Congestion Improvement Act. It's supposed to make sure that revenue collected from gas taxes is spent only on transportation. I don't like this because it locks us into a formula for how our tax money is spent, without regard to actual needs. I'm not kidding, it uses actual percentages to tell us how much to spend on certain kinds of projects. I don't like limiting the flexibility of government this much, so I'll vote no.

Check this out. Proposition 43 is a simple amendment to the state Constitution declaring that voters have the right to have their votes counted. The cynical argument against this one is that after an election, some people might sue election officials if they think their votes haven't been counted. Well, good! They should sue! But I think they can do that under existing laws anyway. This just makes it clear that voting is such a fundamental right that no one should have to doubt that his or her vote will count. It might even get more people involved in the process. Hooray for that.

Proposition 44 is something about chiropractors, and while I have no problem with chiropractors, I do have a problem with the laws regulating them. In California, chiropractors seem to have immunity from the scrutiny that affects other professionals. Hundreds of years ago (or so), a law was passed that keeps the chiropractic code (or whatever they call it) from being amended without a public vote. Well, here's a vote to amend it. It'll suspend the license of a chiropractor convicted of insurance fraud. Okay, let's do that.

I've already mentioned that I'm voting yes on Proposition 45, because it'll start chipping away at term limits. And, in case I haven't mentioned it, I hate term limits. Even though I don't like the argument in favor of this proposition, which starts out by saying that it "will not end term limits," I'm still voting for it. I guess I'm not so pure of heart after all. Sometimes I take the practical way out.

Later this afternoon the Boss called again, still apparently under the illusion that he's going to be able to vote. This time he asked me straight out if I was a Republican, and I had to tell him no. After a brief, uncomfortable silence (during which I guess he expected me to admit I'm a Democrat), he said, "Well, you can still help me, can't you?" I suggested he call someone who thinks more like him.

So he did! He called one of his business cronies, and then called me back to tell me what he'd learned. In five minutes. It's almost as bad as me skimming the ballot pamphlet and making spot decisions. The one thing we have in common is that we don't like Gray Davis, our current governor (who pretends to be a Democrat).

The Boss's friend told him which Republican candidate had the best chance against Davis in the November general election, and I had to agree that Richard Riordan has a shot. However, Republicans are often so narrowly ideological that they prefer losing to compromising. It's a wonder Riordan is still leading in the polls. True to form, though, his lead has been steadily slipping in favor of anti-choice, anti-immigrant candidates.

None of that concerns me, since all I have on my ballot are Gray Davis and three other Democrats who have no chance against him. But I have to pick one of them, because I promised myself I'd never vote for Davis again. Fortunately, it wasn't hard to narrow the field. One of them quotes the Bible in his ballot statement and vows to go on preaching even if he's elected. Another states that her priority is working with the president to crush terrorism, which sounds like a bit of demagoguery to me.

That leaves someone named Anselmo A. Chavez, a 69-year-old "Educator/Accountant" who served in Korea and worked for the CIA. So I'm warming up to this guy already, and then he says one of his priorities is Proposition 13 reform, and suddenly he's got my vote. Proposition 13 has hamstrung the progress of California for many years by requiring all tax measures to be passed by two-thirds of the voters.

Yeah, I don't know what happened to one person-one vote either, but we haven't had that in California for a long time. This is one of those things I'll vote to chip away at every chance I get, so if my vote for Anselmo A. Chavez is in any way seen as a demonstration of my distaste for Proposition 13, that's a good enough reason for me.

Plus, he's from Marysville. Not Los Angeles, not Sacramento, not even San Francisco. Marysville. I think that's way cool.

more pink clouds

More late afternoon clouds.

That's about all I can stomach in one night. There are local races that I'll take a look at tomorrow. I'm sure they'll be much more interesting than the statewide election. Or not. It's actually more fun to do all this processing and write about it than it is to think of the consequences of our votes. That part is still scary.

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