Today was Election Day in California. . .and hardly anybody noticed! With the exception of a handful of contests to fill vacant offices around the state, the primary purpose for voters was to decide on 6 statewide propositions supported by the Governor and legislative leaders. A "Yes" vote was supposed to address the State's enormous deficit and avoid greater shortfalls and further reductions in state programs.
It was a curious campaign. There were few TV commercials; I guess that was a blessing. The Governor occasionally was seen claiming that layoffs and program reductions would result from a no vote. The Governor voted by emergency absentee ballot before he headed off to Washington, D.C. to attend a press conference in the Rose Garden today. I had trouble finding much information on the election in today's newspapers; I think it was on page 3 of the Los Angeles Times. While I felt no great enthusiasm for the election, I did vote this afternoon and had very little wait in a very short line at the polling place. Last I heard estimated turnout was about 8% of the registered voters in the state.
But my cynicism took hold in this election. I actually believe that when the Governor threatened more layoffs of state workers and more program reductions, he wanted voters to vote know so he could blame what he wanted to do on the ballot box rather than himself and the legislature. When the first news show I turned on tonight did not report on the election results until 15 minutes had passed in the broadcast (an aftershock of last Sunday's earthquake was the lead story), it reflected that "we don't give a damn" attitude that seems to permeate the state. Yes, the elected leaders of the great progressive state of California proposed more tax increases and a lot of gobbledygook and said that they expected people who were already suffering from the economy to buy it. But I think they wanted us to vote no and it appears we did; in the early returns the NO votes exceeded 60%. It seems that one proposition is going to pass. Among other things, that one will stop salary payments to state political leaders when there is a budget deficit (or something like that).
I can hear the Governor and legislative leaders as I write this. When they decimate our schools and needed services, I can hear them saying, "The voters left us no choice." I am saddened by the total lack of leadership in what historically has been a progressive state.
These are the views held tonight by The Ancient One who generally has had a relatively positive view of those who hold political office through his 71+ years on this planet. It is a sad day in California, not because it appears that 5 of the 6 propositions failed but because the absence of leadership led to their being on the ballot in the first place.