Rubber-stamped elections, California style

Welcome to the Grand Duchy of California, a place run so poorly that the streets and the homeless existing on them are both rotting, citizens have no expectation of public safety, our public schools ranked 38th for quality, and gas costs $6.49 a gallon (regular).  We've mandated a move toward electric power as "clean" energy, no matter the outrageous cost and total inefficiency.  We're heavily taxed, with income tax of up to 13% and about a 10% sales tax (that varies from county to county).  Police policy in the cities seems to be to wait 15 minutes before responding to an in-progress report, lest the officer be endangered.  Despite this path to destruction, voters have no real choice for governor this November.

You'd think, given these examples (and I could go on), that we'd have a vibrant contest for governor.  People were passionate enough to try a recall last year.  Maybe that failure took the starch out of their sails.  This year, we have a Republican candidate running, but you've probably never heard of him — he's basically invisible.

Gavin Newsom, the worst governor in the history of the state, is running virtually unopposed.  He didn't even bother putting a candidate statement in the official voter information guide.  Ask anyone on the street, and he has no idea who Newsom's opponent is.

Image by Andrea Widburg.

That opponent would be Republican Brian Dahle.  To say his website isn't dynamic would be an understatement.  He's got some videos, and his ask of the voter is modest — a plea for $1 a day to fund his campaign.  I couldn't find any campaign appearances.  He's so unassuming, his latest 13-minute video barely features him.  Perhaps he's too busy running his farm.  I'm guessing the Republican party hasn't bothered to support Dahle at all but has just written off him and our state.

With Election Day in a month, California law says we can start voting now, via U.S. mail, with ballots arriving today — yet the single gubernatorial debate is scheduled for October 23.  It's supposed to be televised, but I haven't seen any hype about that.  Will Newsom even bother to show up?  He's predicted to get 60% of the vote, after all.

Most people don't realize that all the California offices are up for grabs.  Alex Padilla has been appointed to finish Kamala Harris's Senate term, and he's up for confirmation in that post and running for the next term, too.  There's somebody named Mark P. Meuser on the Republican side.  Again, he has a website, but nobody knows his name.

Then there's the state attorney general race.  Our current guy, Rob Bonta, seems to think his main job is shilling for Planned Parenthood.  He sends out an email "update" to every voter, quite frequently, about his priorities.  Great free advertising!  That way, his name is in everyone's head even if his priorities are skewed.  His Republican opponent, Nathan Hochman, is another name I've never heard.

You'd think the local news would do some reporting (no, really, I'm not kidding!) on these candidates.  Instead, they stick to the script they've been given, talking about the latest "gun violence" and the weather, in the rush to get to the sports report.

Besides all this, we have state contests, judges (no info at all on the candidates despite how important they are), and local elections for school board and city council, plus we've got some doozy state propositions.

If you don't live here, you may not know about the proposition process.  Every election, some do-gooder or heavily funded group with an agenda gets propositions qualified to be on the ballot by paying signature-gatherers to get petitions signed.  It takes a certain number to qualify.  Often these are boondoggles.  We find out later what we voted for.

Lots of people who don't bother reading what propositions are about vote "yes" automatically.  There's no public debate — just lots of partisan funding for ads.  We have a constitutional amendment for the "right to reproductive freedom" (prop 1).  Props 26 and 27, both about gambling, oppose one another, but boy, do we get some TV spots on those!  Prop 28 restores funding for arts education that was previously cut from the schools.  Prop 29 would require that a medical professional be on site at dialysis clinics, but the opposition claims that it will shut them down and is running lots of ads.  Prop 30 is lots of fun — another tax, this time on millionaires, to fund zero-emission vehicle programs and (no doubt to sweeten the idea) more wildfire prevention and response efforts.  Finally, we get Prop 31, prohibiting retail sale of flavored tobacco products.  Head spinning yet?

The real decision to be made: Do I bother to vote?  It seems futile except, perhaps, in a few districts where there's a sufficient mix of ideologies among the populace.  Those folks might get a sane congressperson through.  Otherwise, "why bother?" seems to be the going opinion.  We're so outnumbered, and so little energy and lucre have been spent to excite the electorate, that we already know the outcome.

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