I have been a supporter of Barack Obama since he won the Democratic Primary for Senate in Illinois (I supported a friend and neighbor who was running against him but was thrilled to support Obama, not the least as a past resident of Hyde Park and student at the University of Chicago).
I will be voting for Barack Obama tomorrow here in CA. This election is the first time I have ever been voting FOR a candidate – my first two presidential elections I supported (a bit reluctantly the second time) Ross Perot, then Al Gore and John Kerry. I was relatively happy to support Al Gore, if disappointed overall with his campaign. John Kerry too I was disappointed in as a campaign though I likely would have voted for anyone who was not George Bush (though I actually didn’t hate George Bush senior).
Here in CA there are a lot of propositions this time around. More than I will get into detail here (I’m still reviewing some of the crazy ones specific to San Francisco and making up my mind on them) but there are THREE which I feel strongly about – and a few others which I have some opinions on.
Prop 8 – VOTE NO on PROP 8!!!!
If Prop 8 wins we as a state and as a nation will have let the bigots and the religious fanatics (specifically of the Mormon Church) win and the rest of us will have lost. I will be embarrassed and disgusted with my fellow citizens. In the past year I have had close friends get married who never seriously thought they would be able to legally marry the partner they loved – and even with a legal marriage in CA (or the other states where it is legal) they still face discrimination at a Federal level – where marriage perhaps has the most impact (on matters of citizenship and the right to work and live here in the US, on matters of Social Security, IRS etc).
The list of the impacts of marriage is lengthy. BUT two people’s marriage does not change the marriage of others, or the lives of those of us who are not yet married. If, as a society, we choose to give benefits and recognition to marriage – we should not discriminate in the least around who can marry whom (with the only exception perhaps being age/ability to consent).
I believe very strongly in the separation of Church and State. I am an atheist – which, i fear, may be the ultimate minority in the US today – and apparently would and could prevent me from winning election here in the US (indeed the allegation that a candidate was “an atheist” was apparently a devastating – and in that specific case quite inaccurate – negative attack. One which required the other candidate for Senate to publicly defend her active membership in her church.
The actions of the Mormon church which have spent a rumored $20M+ on the Yes on Prop 8 campaign (which is currently cluttering up adsense ads across the web among other nastiness) are, I think, reprehensible. Perhaps even grounds for revisiting their tax-exempt status (I can only dream).
I am also ethnically Jewish on my mom’s side so could even emigrate to Israel if I ever so chose. I also grew up with family stories from my father’s Irish side of the active and passionate discrimination which Irish-Americans encountered as he was growing up. From both sides of my family I feel a connection to minorities – and my generation of my family that connection is quite direct – many of my 1st cousin’s have partners who are not white and their children are bi-racial. In my close extended family in a few short generations we have become quite the melting pot – Jews, Catholics, Buddhists, Atheists and Muslims – black, white, bi-racial and via virtual adoption Asian (my Aunt’s on my dad’s side of the family were big sister’s to a Vietnamese immigrant who has truly become a member of the family – was there with us at my grandmother’s funeral).
Barack Obama’s candidacy – and I hope his election tomorrow as the next President of the United States will mean a great deal for my extended family – for the opportunities ahead for all of my cousin’s and their families. The next generation should, I hope, have the opportunity to strive for anything they put their minds to achieving – unfettered by past discrimination.
And I have to note it was not all that many years ago when my cousin’s partnerships would have been illegal in some states (until 1967 though two state’s didn’t amend their state constitutions until 1998 and 2000!) and even today though now quite common mixed-race couples still face discrimination. (I say partnerships because though there are many children, not all of my cousins have chosen to get married).
I am a straight, white male. Currently single. I hope someday to have the privilege of marrying the woman of my dreams. When, as I also hope, we have children I want to raise them in a world where whatever their sexual preferences they have the opportunity to marry the partner of their choosing.
Vote no on Prop 4
“Parental notification” sounds relatively innocent – but it is not. It is an attack on a woman’s right to choose and it is yet another attempt to restrict abortions, make them harder to get for the very women whose lives would be most deeply impacted by pregnancy.
I recently learned just how active my family has been in the past in the struggle for woman’s rights – my aunt has been a long time pro-choice activist (even in the past driving women to get abortions).
I am an Existentialist – choice for me is absolutely core to my underlying philosophy and outlook on life – and I find measures which seek to restrict other’s choices, which seek to presume how other’s should act, and which seek to force one group’s religious views on the entirety of the population to be extremely troubling.
Vote NO on Proposition 2
I am a serious foodie. I buy locally, often direct from farmer’s, and in fact most of the meat I purchase for myself is “free range”. But Proposition 2 is a case of a proposition which sounds nice but which has a lot of, almost entirely negative, consequences. It forces particular conditions on the raising in particular of chickens for eggs – which would have the impact of raising the cost of CA eggs. Leading almost certainly to greater sales of eggs from out of state.
Which, in turn, impose a higher energy cost for those eggs (transit from out of state into the state), direct food purchase dollars to out of state and mostly very large producers, and in the final irony to mostly producers who would be raising chickens in very large, caged environments. In short the impact of Prop 2 would be higher costs for CA farmers, less shelf space for those farmers in CA groceries, even more CA spending flowing to producers from out of the state, and in the long run even more animals raised in the very conditions the proposition seeks to prevent.
I much prefer NOT imposing by state proposition new regulations of how all farmers should act. Instead I encourage individuals to vote with their own spending – if they choose to spend a bit more for “cage-free” eggs, do so. More customers will encourage more production – and more spending directed to local farmer’s will, in turn, result in local farmer’s reinvesting locally. But many farmers will choose to use a variety of ways to run their farms – some will have both caged and cage-free chickens.
Where the government SHOULD play a role is in ensuring accurate labeling – so that when you buy you can be reasonably certain that you are buying what the label claims. And government should regulate safe food production – ensuring that our food supply is safe and uncontaminated.
So I am voting NO on Prop 2.
A few of the other propositions.
- YES on Proposition 1a. Though not without flaws (the money doesn’t entirely add up) encouraging high speed rail transit and more broadly I hope greater investments in non-road transit across the state is a great and quite important thing.
- NO on Proposition 10. It sounds good on surface but the devil is in the details. And it appears this is a case of one party (T. Boone Pickens) trying to benefit from a proposition campaign, sweetened with a few perks for some (i.e. Prius buyers). I think the case for hybrids is pretty solid without government inducements.
- Yes on Proposition 12 and mostly NO on the rest. I’m still evaluating all the other propsitions, but my default is to say NO to most statewide propositions. I am not in the least a fan of the statewide proposition as having the force of law – it leads to the absolute worst rule of the majority (well even worse the majority of the minorty who choose to exercise their rights to vote) and all to often are poorly worded and have a multitude of horrible and often mostly unforseen consequences. Not the least of which are tying the hands of our elected officials leading to disasters such as the educational system of CA for the past 30+ years (since Proposition 13).
- I’m leaning towards Yes on Props 5 & 11. Still reading through the pro’s and con’s on each. Redistricting is a really complex issue (Prop 11) and frought with opportunities for political action – the Gerrymandering of Texas in the past decades being perhaps just the tip of the iceberg. Prop 5 seems, to me, to make a lot of sense – treatment vs. imprisonment is a very sensible approach to drugs. However though it likely also saves a great deal of money (treatment costs less than overcrowded prisons) there is a serious risk of ineffective treatment – and of underfunded treatment – not to mention quack/ineffectual treatment.
Addiction is a very real issue (not just of illegal drugs). Personally I think a lot of the issues around the current “drug war” could be best addressed by legalization (and thus also taxation & regulation). I personally make the choice to not use any drugs legal or illegal (even have a argument with myself over my consumption of coffee and i’ve never once been drunk) so the personal impact of this law is relatively minor for me. But as a society I think we have far more serious places to invest our societal resources in than what substances people want smoke (though as a non-smoker I definitely do appreciate the CA laws restricting all smoking in restaurants etc).
And don’t get me started on the many complex propositions specific to San Francisco. I’m going to be studying them and making up my mind probably right up to the moment I step into the voting booth. Though I do know I’ll be voting to name our local sewage treatment plant for the current president…