For all of the time that I spend reading and thinking about politics...when election day comes around, I end up feeling about as under informed as the average California voter. I just got around to finding out what all the propositions on the ballot are going to be today. I still have no idea who's running for any of the statewide offices below governor. Well, I know about Gavin Newsom...but I have a general idea that the Lieutenant Governor doesn't really actually do anything, so we're really just voting on whether we want him to keep running for stuff. And I kind of don't, I think he's a megalomaniac, and not the good kind...but then maybe I'm wrong, and the lieutenant governor is actually very important, so I'll probably vote for him anyways rather than a Republican. Except maybe the Republican running is someone I'd like to have keep running for stuff...California needs more moderate Republicans. I guess I'll look into it. But yeah, not as informed as I probably should be.
I do get by on a few carefully formulated preconceptions that I can apply to almost any proposition though. So here's my verdict.
Jerry Brown vs. Meg Whitman: Go Jerry! California Uber-Alles! Let it never be said that I'm prejudiced against all megalomaniacs. Jerry Brown just has what it takes to make megalomania interesting. I like that his ego seems to be more tied up in policy than in politics (he'll care more in 4 years what the unemployment rate is than what charities want to have a special dinner for him) and I think he's ideologically pretty well aligned with California; pro-environment, shades of libertarianism on some issues, willing to try new things. With my luck, he'll piss everyone off and accomplish nothing, or try something really bold that completely fails. But I think it's worth a try....and the alternative is Meg Whitman, who I expect to be more preoccupied with how to become the Republican nominee for vice president in 2012 or 2016 (or who knows, maybe President!) than willing to look for actual solutions in California.
Barbara Boxer vs. Carly Fiorina: Meh. I wish Tom Campbell had won the primary, but I probably still would have voted for Boxer. Until the Republicans in the Senate stop voting in lock step with each other, it's really not even worth treating them like individuals. They're all evil people who want to bomb Iran, destroy the environment, and cut taxes until the country goes bankrupt.
Jerry McNerney vs. David Harmer: I don't actually get to vote in this one, but local issues focused Democratic pragmatist vs. district hopping Republican ideologue? I will be very happy if McNerney wins.
Prop 19: Yes. Honestly, I'm not particularly pro-marijuana. And I have sympathy for the people who think this is a badly written law...it does seem to have some obvious flaws. But the status quo has huge flaws too (discriminatory enforcement, out of control costs), so I'd be happy to see this giant break from the status quo go through, and then hope that over the next few years we can scramble to fix the biggest problems with the proposition as written.
Prop 20: No. Apolitical redistricting would be cool and all, but I have no faith that you could come up with a non-partisan redistricting commission that would accomplish that. My guess is that they'll be about as non-partisan as the Supreme Court. The legislature may be partisan, but it is at least representative of California and open about the partisanship. Sausage making might be ugly to watch, but it doesn't get less ugly if you move it into a black box.
Prop 21: Yes. I'm a sucker for state parks, ok? And this would be in my financial best interest, because I actually go to state parks. I technically believe in all the high minded arguments against budgeting at the ballot box and creating special pots of money for special interests...but it's the state parks. Just once I'm going to vote for something a little selfish on my part, and maybe this will make sure the state parks survive until that utopian future that I've been sacrificing for where the California budgeting process makes sense.
Prop 22: No. Look at me! I'm high minded. I vote against ballot box budgeting every time. Plus, evidence seems to be that this is a classic example of something that sounds good, but is more complicated than most voters understand. There's a lot of money transfer going on right now between city and state governments, and this law would just limit California's flexibility when we need it most.
Prop 23: No. I like clean air. And I don't like corporations spending millions of dollars to exploit California's idiotic initiative system and an off year election to undermine our legislature.
Prop 24: No. See above, except for the clean air part.
Prop 25: Yes. YES DEAR GOD YES! I actually probably care more about this than anything else on the ballot. A two thirds majority requirement for California's budget is stupid. It leads to gridlock. It leads to pet spending projects added in to just buy one more vote. California is constantly teetering on the edge of financial disaster, and what our state desperately needs is the flexibility to do something to try to solve the problem instead of laws that serve those who want to hunker down and protect their ideological sacred cows. This wouldn't even lower the 2/3rds requirement that already exists for raising taxes.
Prop 26: No. See, once you get through a few of these it gets easy. Would in decrease flexibility that California probably needs right now? Yes. Are a bunch of moneyed interests trying to undermine the legislature with something that "sounds good" in an off year election? Yes. Will I vote for it? Hell no.
Prop 27: Yes. For all the same reasons I'm voting no on Prop 20.
Now, if I get really ambitious, maybe I'll figure out all the judges.