I’ve voted in every election since I was eligible at age eighteen, sometimes for Republicans, sometimes for Democrats. But I almost didn’t vote this time around. The choices are… unappealing. It isn’t the presidential candidates themselves that bother me so much as the mood of the country that conjured them. I’ll be out of town on election day and I thought I might quietly let this one slide. Besides, I live in a district and state where the outcome is preordained so what’s the big diff? But then I had a conversation with an older wiser friend yesterday who walked me back to civic responsibility. In the end it wasn’t The Don and Hillary Show that got me to City Hall to cast my vote, but the state and local ballot initiatives.
The voter guide came in at a whopping three hundred and seventeen pages this year. It’s like an Ikea catalogue without the umlauts and photos of semi disposable Swedish furniture. This year there are seventeen state initiatives 51 through 67 and twenty four city initiatives A through X. It’s just two letters shy of a complete alphabet, although the regional multi-county Prop RR asking for a $3.5B bond for transit gets us to Z by proxy.
What are all these issues about? Should there be a tax on sugary drinks? Should funding for affordable housing be increased? Should funding for affordable housing be eliminated? Should California adult film performers wear condoms? Should marijuana be legalized? Should we protect the existing plastic bag ban? Should we redirect revenue from the disposable bag fee? Should we increase the cigarette tax? The list goes on and on. I had to bring a cheat sheet with me to the polls. Check out the liberal and conservative recommendations.
It’s easy to dismiss all the political shenanigans and palace intrigue of a society that is obsessing over minutiae and can’t come to grips with the genuine challenges of the day. But I loved being inside City Hall this afternoon as wedding processions took turns on the grand Beaux Arts staircase under the enormous dome. Life goes on.