Election Day

I voted this morning. My polling place is 3 blocks from my house, so I always take a nice walk down there in order to vote and enjoy the weather. That one can take a “nice walk” there in early November is a clear sign that I live in the Bay Area and not in Wisconsin any longer. Anyway, there were 5 people in line when I got there, and I ran into both one of my neighbors and one of the guys I play Magic with. I guess we have a fairly quiet district. Or maybe everyone votes after work.

My political leanings are somewhere to the left of the mainstream Democratic party, but I’m not especially enamored with any of our small parties, so I typically vote party-line Democratic. I think Obama will make a pretty good President; the bar isn’t set real high for him to be our best President since LBJ. (I’m not hugely enamored of LBJ, either, but he was a President who did some great things and some awful things, which is still a step up from everyone since, who have generally been mediocre-to-awful.)

Although I voted party-Democratic in the national and state elections, I wasn’t real enthusiastic about doing so. I’ve been disappointed in the Pelosi/Byrd Congress, who haven’t really stood up to the Bushies. I’m not real fond of the California state legislature, either, although to be fair I think California’s state government is basically screwed: Federal mandates and an extremely-difficult-to-manage budget make it practically ungovernable except during boom times. The problems are partly structural (a 2/3 majority vote of the populace is required to raise taxes, and a 2/3 vote of the legislature is required to pass a budget), and partly because I think California is just too big and too diverse to govern at the state level. I think California would be better off if it were split into two states, probably along north/south lines. But that’ll never happen.

We had some interesting state propositions this time around:

  • I voted against the “anti-freedom” propositions, 4 (parental notification of minors seeking abortions) and 8 (outlaw gay marriage). These measures are both just plain evil, rolling back freedoms and rights for many citizens. I think anyone who supports Prop 8 should also have their right to marry revoked – it seems only fair. I suspect 8 will fail, but I’m concerned that 4 will pass.
  • Prop 1 is a bond measure for high-speed rail between San Francisco and Los Angeles. I voted against. I generally oppose bond measures as less efficient than passing new taxes, but I will occasionally vote for a county bond measure with a critical goal in mind. I also don’t think high-speed rail between the two cities will be more than a novelty. Plus, I’m very concerned with what it would do to the rail corridor on the SF peninsula, where I live, which hasn’t been worked out. I don’t know how this one will turn out, though.
  • Prop 5 reduces sentencing for certain nonviolent crimes, while Props 6 and 9 strengthen law enforcement and impose tougher penalties. I think we lock up far too many people (over 1% of the US population is presently incarcerated) with far too little attention paid to rehabilitation, so I voted for 5 and against 6 and 9. (I suspect 5 will fail, 9 will pass, and 6 could go either way.)

County measure B is a tax increase measure to bring BART to San Jose. I’m really on the fence on this one, as I think BART is a good system which is well-run, but which is also very expensive due to poor design at its inception. I like it a lot better than “heavy rail” alternatives than CalTrain, though. But it’s expensive to extend. I ended up voting yes, although I suspect the measure is going to fail.

Anyway, I’ll be watching the results tonight. Five Thirty Eight is currently projecting a 98.9% chance of an Obama victory. One of their more interesting posts recently has been What a McCain Victory Looks Like.

I’m not as excited as some Democrats about an Obama Presidency, mainly because I think the Bushies have left the country in such horrific shape that the next President is going to have some huge hurdles to overcome just to hold things together. If the Bushies hadn’t screwed things up so soundly then I think it would be a much more exciting time. As it is, I’m just hoping things can turn around soon enough that the Democrats don’t lose control of Congress in 2010.

Still, getting the Repugnicans out of the Oval Office is a great first step forward.