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The special election: A sock in the jaw to those who gain by apathy, confusion

Because I actually spend time reading the ballot pamphlet and news articles
about statewide ballot measures (unlike people with, you know, jobs and
families and stuff), and because I really try to decide on each measure’s
actual merits, friends and acquaintances over the years have sought my
advice on how to vote. Maybe a little bit because they actually respect my
opinions, but mostly, they just don’t want to waste their own precious time
on this boring stuff.

So in recent election years, whatever I decided might have been worth a few
dozen or so votes. And I cared a lot about those votes, and put in a lot of
time and effort trying to be right.

Not so much this year. I’ve had to force myself to care, to even make up my
own mind, much less tell friends what to do. Because here’s the cold hard
truth: none of this junk really matters a lot right now.

And that’s the point. We shouldn’t have even had this election. If I’ve
reached one irrefutable conclusion after boring myself to death reading
about Props. 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, and 80, it’s this: There was not a
freakin’ thing here that couldn’t have waited for next year’s regular
election cycle. This election is itself a scandal, a complete waste of
everybody’s time, energy, and money. The fact that it happened at all was
the real travesty.

The strong temptation was to say the hell with it, and not vote. But alas,
that’s precisely what they wanted us to do! “They” being the guys who want
to slip all this junk through now, who hoped that an apathetic electorate
and a pathetically low turnout would enable their narrow band of support to
carry the day.
And they’re right. The lower the turnout, the more of this junk we’ll face,
with more dumb special elections in the future.
Oh, there’s some legitimate discussion to be had about some of the issues.
Props 79 and 78, for example, were directly competing prescription drug
measures. And if they both passed, the one with the most votes would have
taken effect. So you could have made a logical case here to vote yes on the
best one. (And that would have been 79, because it actually does something,
whereas 78 was an industry smokescreen, nothing more.)

And reasonable people can agree with the sentiment behind Prop.77, that
politicians shouldn’t draw their own district lines. Besides, anything John
Doolittle hates so much must have merit. But c’mon, reapportionment? Do
district lines affect real people’s lives in a way that required a whole
special election right now? No.

There were some other proposals that would have warranted a “no” vote in any
election anyway, like Prop. 73, the abortion notification measure. The
religious right hoped this would force more teen-age girls to have babies
they don’t want because out of fear to tell their parents about their
abortions. Well, no one should be forcing any woman or girl of any age to be
pregnant against her will.

But there was a greater issue here than the pros or cons of any of these
individual measures. This election shouldn’t have happened, and the forces
behind it needed a powerful sock in the jaw to get that message.

That’s exactly what happened: Everything going down decisively sent it.
As for me, I’ll open my mind again in 2006.


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