Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Voting in California today

There are elections today in California. Some of them are the regular assortment of scattered special elections, runoffs, etc. Those are all location-specific; no statewide offices are at stake. There are several propositions, however, 1A through 1F. They are mostly dealing with the budget - that would be the dysfunctional California state budget that is a huge mess in many ways.

I am a hardcore political junkie, but I have been trying to avoid this one. The cause is not hard to figure out; California law requires a two-thirds majority to pass the budget. Republicans, who are in the minority and probably will be for the foreseeable future, dig in their heels and resist any kind of compromise on cutting spending and/or raising taxes. It doesn't help that our governor is a Republican; there is very little love lost between him and the Republicans in the legislature. Most of them consider him a RINO (Republican In Name Only).

We have a massive budget deficit that I have been trying hard not to think about. Most of the propositions are band-aids over this mess. I voted for most of them, because we have to fund certain things. But I really didn't want to.

Democrats and Republicans are basically playing chicken. Neither wants to blink first. Democrats don't want to cut spending, and Republicans don't want to raise taxes. Republicans think they can win this because they hate government already, so they figure if the state goes off a cliff, they will be proved right.

I, of course, think Republicans are being stupid. A large majority of Californians are Democrats; this sure ain't gonna make them feel better about the Republican party. Republicans probably think that they're well-positioned to hold onto the governor's office in 2010, because they have a couple of very rich candidates running. But Arnold is only there because of a quirk of history. He won election because Gray Davis was one of the least charismatic politicians in California. Then Arnold won reelection because his next competitor - I don't even remember the guy's name - was even worse. Arnold is not just the most famous Republican governor in the country, he is one of the most famous Republican governors in the history of the country. If these initiatives fail, which it looks like they will, he will look even more like a failure than he already does, and he ain't doing well. This will be yet another black mark on the Republican party.

I think the Republican Party has miscalculated what will happen if too many things really do get cut. I think a lot of anger is going to boil over, and it is going to be directed at them.

Polls close in less than 10 minutes. Turnout is expected to be extremely low. We live in interesting times. I think I'm going to be checking out Calitics.com a little more often for the next few months.

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