Saturday, November 6, 2010

California Uber Alles

Jerry Brown is the governor-elect of California...again, despite being massively outspent by Meg Whitman. In fact, all of the state wide races in California were won by Democrats, despite the luke warm popularity of Barbara Boxer (the San Francisco Chronicle wouldn't even endorse her), the shovels full of money from the insurance industry in the Insurance Commissioner race, and the scandal involving the candidate for Attorney General. The Attorney General race was close enough that it might flip on a recount, or once the provisional ballots are tallied, but it's still an extremely strong showing for Democrats overall, in a midterm election in a strong Republican year. It may just not be that easy for Republicans that are not Arnold Schwarzenegger to get elected here anymore.

On the propositions, it was really just a triumph for "Gee that sounds like a good idea" voting. We like clean air and nonpartisanship! We don't like fees or taxes! And then there's Prop 25...which passed (woohoo!), and I'm not really sure why. Possibly because it's just so obviously a good idea, or maybe because more people use those little voter guide things than I thought. That one radio commercial against Prop 25 was pretty lame too, so maybe that helped.

The Prop 19 results are interesting, I think....apparently a lot of people don't like pot. You hear a lot of people (Andrew Sullivan for one) claiming that it must be because the electorate skewed old this time around, or because of a flaw in the way the initiative was written, or that medical marijuana users betrayed their prescriptionless kindred. I'm sure that all contributed, but I think that you have to also acknowledge that this is a reflection of how a large portion of the population actually feels about marijuana...and not just old people who you can ignore because they'll be dead so soon. And if large segments of people have negative feelings about marijuana, maybe the "Gee that sounds like a good idea!" o-matic initiative process is not the best place to attack some of the more problematic aspects of the status quo of marijuana policy. Last month Schwarzenegger and the legislature teamed up to pass a bill that should reduce the waste of enforcement costs significantly and eliminate some of the most egregious examples of unfair enforcement, when it comes to pot consumers. There are a lot more problems to fix regarding pot production and pot distribution, but maybe the legislature can come up with pragmatic approaches to those as well. Or at least, here's hoping.

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