I am going to indulge myself in a bit of pontification here. Not that it probably matters to anyone, but here is how I am voting on all major California races and propositions:
President, Vice President: Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Quite frankly, the Republican vision of America and the world scares me. There are a lot of things Obama has done — or failed to do — that I have been unhappy about, but given that all of politics is a compromise between the ideal and the achievable, in many ways he has done much more than most of us really should have expected. I realize that I am in the bluest region in a very blue state (taken as a whole — the Central Valley and other rural regions run red), and so my vote in the Presidential race means little, but I am still not going to vote for a third party candidate. I would hate to have a situation like 2000, where the candidate with the most popular votes loses in the electoral college. It would embolden those in opposition, and make it even harder to get anything done for the next four years. Given that there is sure to be at least one SCOTUS appointment in that time, offering as much support for Obama as possible matters.
U.S. Senate: Dianne Feinstein. Sigh. I am no fan of Feinstein. I was not impressed by her opponent’s candidate statement, however, and even had I been so I would still vote for the incumbent. Numbers matter here, and having as many Democrats in the Senate as possible is important.
Proposition 30, increase in income taxes and sales taxes: Yes. The state needs the money. We are in dire financial straits. Failure to pass this would result in state spending reductions, primarily to education. Given the way that Prop 13 has gutted the best public schools in the country over the past three decades, this is a necessity. (Also, if I’m looking at supporters versus opponents, The League of Women Voters versus the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association? No contest.)
Proposition 31, “State Budget, State And Local Government. Initiative Constitutional Amendment And Statute”: No. Because of its two-year budgeting requirement, it would add inflexibility to the state budgeting process. It would also result in a loss of tax revenue to the tune of $200 million annually.
Proposition 32, alleged political campaign reform: This one deserves its own post, but no, no, no. It’s deceptive and unfair.
Proposition 33, auto insurance rates: I admit, I have not read enough about this to have a clear idea about it, so as it stands now, no.
Proposition 34, repeal of the death penalty: Yes. That I should be firmly in support of Prop 34 should be no surprise to anyone who knows me. In fact, out of all the propositions, this is the one I feel most intensely about.
Proposition 35, human trafficking: No. I am extremely wary of creating or changing criminal laws — especially ones that increase the penalties for behavior as much as this one does — by the initiative process. (Also, the definition of “Commercial sex act” (“sexual conduct on account of which anything of value is given or received by any person”) seem to me as being overbroad. ) The requirement of Internet registration is unwieldy, and given the nature of the Internet, allows for the possibility of abuse. (And yes, I do understand that that my opposition to Prop 35 is inconsistent with my support for Props 34 and 36.)
Proposition 36, penalties under the three strikes laws: Yes. The three-strikes law was flawed from its adoption by initiative in 1994, and has been misused. Prop 36 fixes the worst of it.
Proposition 37, GMO labeling requirements: No. A very wise law professor once told me that if the consequences of a proposition are at all vague, regardless of how good it looks, vote against it. Prop 37 — the Genetically Engineered Food Labeling Initiative — has the potential of being a mare’s nest. It could be the food equivalent of the posting requirements of Prop. 65, costing businesses and consumers a lot of money without actually giving people choices. The whole area of food labeling needs to be handled on a federal level. You want to argue that the FDA and USDA are owned lock, stock, and barrel by Monsanto? Okay, but that is where the fight should be. This leaves aside the entire scientific question of whether GMO foods are at all harmful. The argument that “people should make up their own minds” does not carry much weight with me, since most people are susceptible to scare tactics. Using litigation as an enforcement mechanism also bothers me.
Proposition 38, tax to fund early childhood education programs: No. I object to Prop 38 even though it aims to raise income taxes the same as Prop 30 does. Firstly, the increases start at $7,500 rather than $250,000. More importantly, though, passing this will do nothing to prevent the automatic five billion dollars in education spending cuts that will occur if this gets more votes than Prop. 30.
Proposition 39, business tax treatment, clean energy fund: This particular proposition drives me crazier than the others. I like the changes in tax treatment for businesses — I think that basing taxes on the amount of in-state sales makes a lot of sense. But that money needs to go into the general fund, not be locked into particular projects. It’s a yes, but a reluctant yes.
Proposition 40, referendum on State Senate redistricting: Yes. The districts drawn by the citizen’s commission are fair and reasonable. There is currently no opposition to the measure, the opponents having withdrawn following the State Supreme Court having ruled that the districts were to be kept in place for the 2012 election, so voting no seems silly. I am interested in finding out the backstory, though: apparently the proposition was put on the ballot by people hoping it would be defeated, thus invalidating the districts drawn by the commission. It never occurred to me that someone would put a measure on the ballot in order to force a “no” vote, but now that I think about it, it makes sense.
There are a host of county and local measures and races, but I am going to skip those. (Most people who read this would not care whether Santa Clara County passes a one-eighth a penny sales tax, or renews an existing parcel tax for clean water management, or about the people running for school board or city council.)
So, if you are in California, how are you voting?