Friday, November 7, 2008

Me, My County and My State

I know it is a little late to post about the election three days later, but I've been up to my ears in academic concerns, and today is my first day off to compare my votes to those of Humboldt County and the rest of California. It seems like a way to figure out what kind of community I live in, what kind of people are all around me every day, in the grocery store and on the bus.

How we vote isn't the strongest indicator of who we are, but it still says something. Votes are similar to anonymous comments on blogs; since voting is anonymous, we are free to say what we really think, not what we think others expect us to say.

It is always interesting that most matters are split roughly equally. Nothing seems to pass or fail by more than a few percent. Are humans really as dual-natured as this or is it a result of bipartisan politics and commercial media? I wonder if votes were as equally split in the days before TV, in the days when Abe Lincoln was a Republican and other parties besides the big two could very well steal the vote? I doubt it. Then perhaps bipartisanship is a result of mass media influence.

President and Representatives
Barack Obama, our president elect, got my vote as well as those of 30,806 of my fellow Humboldtians and 65,125,042 of my fellow Californians. A historic moment, when people elect a president based on his intelligence and reasoning rather than his skin color and party affiliation.

Mike Thompson, the incumbent, is the U.S. Rep for our district. I and 31,962 county resident agreed on this. We represent 67 percent of the voters in Humboldt, a pretty large margin.

Wes Chesbro, our new Assembly member here in District One, won by an even greater margin, 71 percent. I and 33,138 other residents agreed about this.

1-A The state voted to pass Prop. 1A, a bond act to fund passenger trains, even though I and 27,027 Humboldtians (58 percent) voted no. I think this dissonance is because we in the northern part of the state are not inconvenienced by traffic jams all day every day as they are in Southern California.

2 The state, the county and I agreed on Prop. 2 to raise the standards on farm animal confinement (63 percent in California and 65 percent in Humboldt). I have heard some people say that this will mean an end to all pig farming in the state and the beginning of unaffordable food. I think it will lead to more conscious consumption in general, not to mention maybe we can regain our humanity and remember that meat comes from the death of other creatures not from grocery stores. I'm no vegetarian, by the way; I'm a meat eater because I can kill, clean and cook meat before I eat it. Forgetting the whole process makes us wasteful and inhumane.

3 On Prop. 3, the children's hospital bond act, I and 53 percent of my fellow Humboldt voters said "No." But more than 5 million of our fellow Californians disagreed. So as a state, we are going into debt for $980 million ($2 billion including interest) to build and renovate "eligible" hospitals. If we want to do something about the dismal state of healthcare, look to the out-of-control insurance industry. I have spent the whole year with a sick child, and I don't see how this is ever going to trickle down to benefit sick children. The words "children's hospitals" were hyperbole, there to trigger emotional, non-reasoning reactions in voters. Which apparently they did.

4 I agreed with the majority of state and county voters about Prop. 4, that little girls should NOT have to notify their parents and wait 48 hours before they can have an abortion. Humboldt voters feel even more strongly about this that the rest of the state (64 percent and 52 percent, respectively). Who the hell even brought this to the ballot? It's hard enough to raise children when you are mature and have chosen to become pregnant. This proposition was a scaffold toward making abortion illegal.

5 The results of Prop. 5 are interesting in what they reveal about Humboldt County. I and 51 percent (a small margin) of county voters agreed that money should be spent on treatment programs for non-violent drug offenders. The keyword for me here is non-violent; in other words we aren't talking about that dangerous meth head who beats his family and breaks into cars. But the rest of California doesn't agree, and Prop. 5 failed.

6 Humboldt and California said no to Prop. 6 and its suggestion of increasing law enforcement funding, probably because of the 30 mysterious revisions to criminal laws. What a weird way to effect legislation, by tacking it onto a request for funds.

7 The county and the state disagreed with me on Prop. 7 and I don't understand why. Private utilities have to use renewable energy, why not government utilities? But 66 percent of Humboldt voters and 65 percent of California voters disagree with me.

8 At least I can look around at my neighbors and know that 60 percent of them, 29, 315 of my neighbors agree with me that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. However, Prop. 8, preventing same-sex marriage, passed statewide, by a 52-percent margin. I predict we will see this on the ballot again next time.

9 Prop. 9 passed statewide but failed in Humboldt. WTF, Humboldt? You don't think victims should be notified when their attacker is about to get out on parole? You don't think victims should offer input on parole hearings? I suggest anyone who voted no on this read the story of Larry Singleton, the guy who cut off the arms of a teenage hitchhiker so she couldn't struggle while he raped her. She lives on, armless, miraculously. But Singleton was paroled so he could, and did, kill a woman. Do you really think the parole board would have released him if the armless victim was sitting in the room? Thank heavens the rest of California (54 percent) disagreed with the 51 percent of Humboldt voters.

10 Prop. 10. The state, county and I all agreed not to fund a bond measure for alternative cars.

11 Prop.11 By a very tiny margin (50.5 percent) the state voted to change the process of drawing boundaries. Now a commission will do it. In Humboldt, 25,624 voters and I disagreed, representing 58 percent of voters. The idea of redrawing boundaries is interesting here in Humboldt, however, when our own county district boundaries are so nonsensical (Fortuna and SoHum lumped together as one).

12 Finally, Prop 12. I agreed with with 62 percent of my fellow Humboldt voters and 63 percent of Californians to provide home and farm aid to veterans. I think there should be clear benefits to serving your country in the military. Benefits like funding for college and home ownership make sense.

In Conclusion
I got my state figures from the San Francisco Chronicle and my county ones from the county. My analysis of issues may be less knowledgeable than some people's but I am fairly certain my heart is in the right place. I do the best I can, just like all voters in this democracy.


Ernie Branscomb said...

Indie, I think that the vote is always so evenly split because we live in a society that just plain likes to disagree. No matter what one thinks, another just likes to be a contrarian. It just makes us feel smarter to disagree. It makes us stand out as original thinkers. So we go through our thought processes like a pinball through a maze. We disagree with other people that we associate with, and the more people that we run into with a certain opinion, the more likely that we are to disagree with that issue. It only makes sense that I’m right. That’s why everything boils down to just two opinions. You have the group of one mind, and then you have the group that disagrees with them. Two basic groups. It makes sense to me.

Somewhere in the middle, where one philosophy overtakes another by a small margin, is from the influence of logic and reason. Most of us are resistant to that.

I can’t believe that you disagreed with prop 11, how dumb can you be. I disagree with you. I probably shouldn’t have said that, because fifty percent of the people will end up disagreeing with me, and they probably won’t get the joke. They’re called literalists. I’m more of a contrarian.

Indie said...

Isn't it sad that most of us are resistant to logic and reason, as you say? I like to talk about logic and reason, but I am just as passionate and reactionary as the next person.

It is very interesting what you said about disagreeing: that it makes us feel smart and like we stand out as original thinkers. Could it be that simple?

Have people been this polarized about issues for a long time, Ernie, or is it a relatively recent development?

Ernie Branscomb said...

Well, most of what I said was tongue in cheek, but there has to be something to the theory. There’s not many other answers.

It would seem that we would all agree that black is black, but I guarantee that if someone said that, there would be someone else that would disagree, and want to discuss all the shades of black. When, if you go by the strict definition, black is black, period, there is no other definition other than in people’s opinion. We are all contrarians, it began with time.

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