by Steven Woodruff
Yesterday I casually asked a twentysomething woman if she was voting on Tuesday. She said no, she wasn’t. She was working, she said, and hadn’t made any plans to vote. There are many her age and older who will not show up. They all have their reasons, I suppose. But, if you are in this category this is for you: There is no calculus for today’s important issues and those who will eventually be deciding on them for us that makes this OK. If you’re willfully disengaged you are a loser, plain and simple.
For this election cycle the California ballot had about 40 choices which included propositions, a congressional representative, a governor, Appellate and Supreme Court judges, and other statewide positions. Obviously there is something for everyone here. Not voting puts you pretty squarely in the cross hairs of not giving a damn about anything. Let me say I am sorry I share living in this state with you and I hope you will consider moving elsewhere sometime soon.
While we struggle with voting issues of all kinds here, there are places which have solved the disengagement issue. Peru for instance requires you to vote and fines you if you don’t. Australia and Brazil also have enforced compulsory voting. Here we have been doing just the opposite—rolling back important legislated protections which in this cycle will disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of legitimate voters, mostly in dedicated conservative states. The reasonable position is that if government is making decisions which affect you, voting is your best opportunity for looking after your self-interests. There is really no one you can expect to do it for you. You better show up, especially if there are those out there trying to make sure you don’t.
One of the ancillary angles of the ACA was that federal navigators could assist new enrollees to register to vote. That function was made possible under the provisions of the 1993 National Voter Registration Act which linked help with voter registration to any government public assistance agency. It should have happened and much of the blame for the failing to put it into play goes to President Obama who caved in to the complaints of the loudmouths in the GOP. Registering new voters through ACA could have been an effective tool to boost voter turnout in conservative states that declined to set up state exchanges and which also pursued aggressive vote suppression tactics in the run up to this election and in 2012. We should press for a course correction from HHS for 2016.
I voted for Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsom in the two top slots, and also Kamala Harris for Attorney General who is going to be a big shot in national politics someday. I also voted for Congresswoman Judy Chu, though I don’t like her very much. She has been a dependable Democratic Caucus voter but I resent her cautious demeanor and weak presence on important issues. She is also lousy on social media. I have contacted her several times and have found her and her office unresponsive. She is light-years away from the quality of representation I had with Adam Schiff. He represented me before the district was recently redrawn.
Chu’s opponent Jack Orswell was a faceless leadership not politics guy who had little or no information on his website or mailers outlining his thinking on any of the big national or international issues. His profile was loaded with his achievements as an Eagle Scouts leader. I guess he was going after a family values stance, but that and his local politics position on the extension of the 710 Freeway just ended up making him look trivial. He hardly deserved to be a candidate.
One of the close races in California is for Superintendent of Public Instruction. I chose to vote for the incumbent, Tom Torlakson, because I did not want yet another potential shakedown of a legitimate government domain by privatization impulses. Poor school performance (which we have) is largely the result of tax and revenue issues, and unresolved immigration issues that put huge numbers of foreign born students in local school systems. Torlakson’s opponent, an over eager, business-ready charter school guy, had helped L.A.’s former mayor Antonio Villaraigosa create a rolling hot mess out of the L.A. Unified School District. In the end I wanted less of the trend toward multi-tiered education, testing frenzy, and undeserved blame and lack of respect heaped on teachers. I’m an all for one, one for all kind of guy. That’s why I vote in the first place. It’s just possible that the guy I save may not be me.