And tomorrow the charade continues in Pennsylvania and all that, and if you’re obsessively watching that but not paying attention to more local votes and matters, you’re going about this the wrong way. Keep your eyes open to the local stuff which will affect you more immediately.
As was the case with the February vote out here, more was going on than just the primaries, and such will be the case in June, when the presidential primaries used to be held here (and I regard the alternate history where a June California primary turned out to decide things for the Democratic race with both fascination and horror — it would have been an incredibly Machiavellian exercise and I would have gone insane in the middle of it). The fact that the June vote will be the least participated in of the three in this year is both understandable and a bit depressing; the ‘stake everything on one throw’ attitude towards voting I’ve noticed over time is a fundamental misreading of how citizenship works, though it’s an understandable misreading given the functions of mass marketing and reduction to simplicities in this area.
In California it’s a bit different due to the existence of the extraconstitutional mechanism of the proposition, and right now there are two to consider, so here’s a quick overview.
First, it’s important to note that both of the propositions are not merely covering the same area, but interrelated — to the point where the second, if it pulls more votes, will supersede the first. They’re not working in sync, however; instead they’re working against each other, big time, and are each supported by a bunch of groups in open war against the other.
Both address the question of of ’eminent domain,’ which in the lens of American politics is a passionate one. The Kelo v. New London case decided by the Supreme Court is what has made it a hot-button issue in recent years. (If the legalese is a bit much there, there are about eight million responses on the Web to it — though it can be simply summed up as “OMG ARGH!,” essentially, and not without reason.) Back in 2006 Proposition 90 was first proposed as a way to address it, but it went down to defeat, so try try again.
But what do we have so far? Well…:
- Proposition 98 — “Eminent Domain. Limits on Government Authority.” — Okay, talk about bait and switch. Seemingly this is all just about eminent domain straight up. Not so fast, though — as the link shows there, the other big thing in this version of the proposition is the abolition of rent control. Now, I rent myself, though not in a rent-controlled situation, and it’s plenty clear to me what the abolition of such a control would mean in terms of affordable housing for many, many California residents. Combined with calling into question ‘inclusionary housing,’ not to mention plenty of other rather suspicious provisions, this all adds up into something that is using a theoretical no-brainer to mask a bunch of other stuff going on. My current vote: an emphatic NO.
- Proposition 99 — “Eminent Domain. Limits on Government.” — This counterproposal parallels 98, but is specifically written to avoid the rent control question, and as mentioned will supersede 98 if both pass. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the fact that both renters groups and environmental groups are pulling for this one, combined with the ability to supersede 98, is enough to make me consider this a YES vote, though I’ll want to study it in a little more detail just to be sure. My mind’s pretty well made up here, though.
A basic enough summary via the SF Chronicle from March puts all this into some further context, though as with anything of this nature it’s a simplification. Still, there’s not much more to add here beyond that, and I’m sure the attack ads are flying already and will get worse. Come the day I’ll be at the voting booth, though, and if you’re a California resident you should be too — and I haven’t even mentioned statewide offices and county votes and all that yet. But it’s all part of the process, and you should all be involved.