Wednesday, October 19, 2005
L'État, C'Est Moi
It's been a long time since 1776. Two hundred and... something years, to be exact. That's two-hundred-and-something glorious years of freedom, when Americans won for themselves the right of representative democracy from a tyrranical nation who offered them nothing but representative democracy and forced them to drink tea. From what I understand, Paul Revere fucking hated tea. Couldn't stomach it at all.
The rest, as they say, is history. Of course "they" say that because "they" went to public schools and thus are woefully ill equipped to say anything more substantial about it. As far as anyone knows for sure, the only things that ever happened in American history are slavery and Hitler. No wonder nobody likes American history. Slavery and Hitler are two massive downers.
What made me think of American democracy and our proud patriotic patrimony--including our complete Freedom of Alliteration--is that I finally got my Sample Ballot for next month's "Special Consolidated Statewide Election".
I stopped watching news channels I'd say about four seconds after the last uttered syllable of John Kerry's concession speech from Faneuil Hall last year. So honestly, I have no idea what this election is all about. Just judging from the television commercials I see regarding the issues up for vote it has something to do with Arnold Schwarzenegger and his heroic, extraordinary bid to reform the way government works in California. Either that or it's about how our Governor uses the blood of school teachers to run his fleet of Hummer SUVs and wears a jacket stitched together from the hides of dead firefighters. One of the two.
All I know is that on November 8th I'm supposed to go out and vote.
I know I'm supposed to preach good citizenship and set an example for my kids, but I really really don't want to vote.
I've mentioned this before, but California--by far the most populous state in the nation--no longer functions as a representative democracy the way our forefathers intended. The State Legislature has been stripped of all decision-making power besides the formulation of the annual state budget, but even that is hampered by a laundry list of restrictions passed in previous Propositions and Initiatives approved directly by the voters. Basically they can only vote on whether or not they should pay themselves. And even then, instead of a simple Yes-No vote, their choices are "No, I Refuse To Suckle At The Public Teat" or "Yes, I Am A Complete Douchebag, Thanks For Asking". And then clowns run in to the State Capitol building upon completion of the vote, honking and seltzer-spraying and kicking people with their giant, terrifying shoes.* Legislating is not a fun job.
We don't have the luxury in this state of voting every once in a while reflexively for either a) the incumbent or b) the person who represents the party you hate the least and then forgetting about politics, secure in the knowledge that you've sent someone to Sacramento to watch TV, eat pizza and not read the text of proposed laws FOR you.
Instead every year we get this giant, thick booklet of proposed law-changes that we're supposed to read and understand. Also included are the Cliffs-Notes versions, a few paragraphs long, beside which proponents for both sides are allowed to make short arguments. It sucks because they're always so persuasive on both sides and there's no way to check the accuracy.
One will say: "Proposition 85 provides a constant shower of free, untraceable money NOT FROM TAXES that will fall willy-nilly upon the ground for you to collect at your leisure."
And I think "Hey, that sounds OK."
Until the other says: "Proposition 85 is a front for Big Oil, Big Pharma, international business conglomerates, foreigners, sodomites, casino interests, illegal aliens, the United Nations, the IRS and Jews. It will cost the state of California roughly... well, how much do you have on you right now?"
So I naturally think "Foreigners? Count me out, friend!"
There's just no way to tell. And I don't want to vote on all this crap in the first place. But I can't leave it to Sacramento because with all the retarded Term Limit laws, there's nobody up there who have been in government more than 2 years at a time, just long enough to figure out (sort of) what it is they're doing in time to get term-limited out.
Thus it falls to me, Pops Q. Voter, to save the state from itself.
So I can't not vote.
To relieve some of the crushing pressure, though, I've decided to put my vote in the hands of Fortune. Maybe it's laziness, maybe it's too much of HBO's Rome with their omens and their household gods turning me pagan, maybe it's my crippling gambling addiction... who can say?
I am making my vote selections based on the flip of a coin. In this case we're talking about a US quarter, dated 2000 with the Maryland imprint on the back. Maryland, apparently, is the "Old Line State". No, I don't know what that means either.
It seems flippant (no pun intended) to treat something as sacred as voting thus, but people pray over their votes, which is just as much an arbitrary abdication of personal responsibility, so I feel I'm on solid ground. Plus this method worked a treat on my SATs, so it's proven effective.
Heads = yes and tails = no.
PROPOSITION 73. Waiting period AND parental notification for abortion. HEADS. Damn, that's a YES.
PROP 74. Making tenure for public school teachers harder to get AND less rock-solid permanent. TAILS. OK, that's a NO.
PROP 75. Restricting using union dues for political contributions. I call it the "Only Republicans Can Raise Money" proposition. Yes, TAILS! NO.
PROP 76. Arnie's "I Hate Schools" bill, vs. an old proposition that limited education budget cuts. HEADS. YES.
PROP 77. Takes redistricting power from the state Senate (one less thing to worry about!) and gives it to... I'm not sure. A triumvirate of Carl Weathers, Jesse Ventura and the Predator I think. Fucking HEADS. YES.
PROP 78. Discount prescription drugs. All kinds of horrible budget ramifications I'm sure. I don't do math. HEADS, YES.
PROP 79. What the fuck? Another prescription drug discount? I don't understand. This is what the quarter is for. TAILS, NO.
PROP 80. Partially (I think) un-privatizes the way electricity is bought and sold. More regulation anyway, which I, as a Democrat, love love love. TAILS, NO.
Man. That's one politically confused quarter. It's just that kind of dithering ambivalence that has brought this state low in the first place. I really don't want to vote for that abortion thing, but what can I do? George Washington--backed by the full weight and authority of the Great State of Maryland--has spoken. May God have mercy on us all.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 5.0 (as a potential guide for all California voters)
*= As agreed to in Proposition 319, the so-called "Send In The Clowns" Initiative passed in 1971 with a 46-point majority.