~ kusala
[ ku-sa-la: Pali term meaning wholesome, skillful, good, meritorious. ]
[ Action characterized by this quality (kusala-kamma) is bound to result (eventually) in happiness and a favorable outcome. ]


2006-06-01 - 8:18 a.m.

What's a California Democrat to Do?

So, I filled out the majority of my absentee ballot over the weekend. The highlights, if they can be called that:

* Santa Barbara County Split: NO
Basically, this is a bullshit proposal by North County pro-growth, anti-regulation folks who would like to turn the area into another Orange County (ok, yeah, that's a little bit of hyperbole). Santa Maria is already on its way there, however, without the "charm" (it's actually now surpassed SB as the most populous city, which bodes an interesting future). There's some local sentiment along the lines of "just let them split and do what they want," but while my inner cartographer is intrigued by the possibility of a new Mission County, I generally think anything proposed by North-Countyites is a Bad Idea, and this is no exception. [sidebar: in this week's news, it seems Sudden Oak Death is creeping its way down the California coast, and may start doing in the oaks that South County environmentalists have waged years of war over to prevent North County farmers from bulldozing to plant ever more vineyards to feed our Big Santa Barbara Wine Industry.]

*Tax the Rich for Preschool Spending: NO
I felt it worth commenting on this. Even though I'm all for socking it to the folks with big pockets for almost any reason, I guess I just don't consider "universal voluntary preschool" to be a priority. You wanna earmark the money toward subsidized childcare: OK. Toward our dismal K-12 public schools: OK. Toward more aid to the disabled and elderly: OK. But is preschool really a necessity? I just see far better things to do with money from a targeted tax increase. It seems I've also been getting in touch with my inner Conservative lately, because this debacle surrounding the high school exit exam has been burning me up: I know some schools are underfunded, there's a social crisis, a class gap, etc., but sheeee-it, if you can't do 8th Grade math and 9th Grade English, no, sorry, you don't deserve a goddamn high school diploma! (And I don't buy the argument "Why punish the kids if it's the system that's broken.") And some of the rhetoric around this tax measure states things like: "We need preschool to better prepare our kids to succeed in school." Fuck! Fix the K-12 system first! I'm no child development expert, but all the post-toddler socializing and skillbuilding in the world probably isn't going to get more kids passing the HS exit exam!

Anyway, this brings me to the real problem I'm having with my absentee ballot: Who the hell am I supposed to vote for to run in the November governor's race against Der Schwarzenegger?

Angelides or Westly?
Westly or Angelides?

Thankfully, I don't have cable television, so I've been spared all the negative campaigning I've heard about. So, in the absence of that, how am I to differentiate between Phil & Steve?

I consider myself fairly well-informed. I read the newspaper regularly, if not daily. No, I haven't gone to each candidate's site and perused the lists of their positions (which, from the little I've heard, are pretty damn sim'lar -- California Democratic politics being what it is).

So how do I choose which bubble to fill in on this damn ballot?
- Which one is cuter? (Westly) [no, honest, that's not a criterion]
- Which one is more likely to beat Arnie in November? (Westly again, if a weekend LA Times poll is to be believed)
- Which one seems more environmentally friendly? (Westly)
- Whose previous career seems outwardly more "admirable"? (Westly: eBay exec vs. real estate developer)
- Which one have I retained a (fairly baseless) gut instinct to vote for? (Angelides)

The truth is, I'm not sure how much it matters who sits in the Governor's chair. Has California fallen into total bedlam since the advent of Arnie? No. I guess. Would I like to see him replaced? Sure; probably more on principle than based on actual actions he's taken.

Hmm. I think I may have mostly answered my own question based on my analysis above. However, I will try to look at the candidate's sites and do a little more reading today, as I want to get the ballot done and in the mail tomorrow.

Still, I ask again: What's a California Democrat to do????

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