Friday, November 5, 2010

Some Thoughts on the Election

I'm not going to try for a thorough analysis of the recent election. First it would be too depressing. Second others have already done much better and more thorough analysis than I could ever do.

My brother lives in Denver. I Skyped him yesterday to ask why it was that Colorado was a little speck of blue in the otherwise Red Sea of the Midwest and Mountain States. He Skyped back that the Republicans there had nominated Tea Partiers for both Governor and Senator, thus giving the election to the Democrats. "Thank God for Sarah Palin," he Skyped.

But it must be noted that Harry Reid was only able to win against the second-wackiest Tea Partier in the country (the wackiest being Christine "I'm Not a Witch" O'Donnell). I must admit that I actually think O'Donnell's attack on onanism is more entertaining, but that's not suitable for family television. And Democrats like Russ Feingold were beaten by what we can only describe objectively as lesser minds--in the case of Feingold's opposition, a much lesser mind.

In California we elected Jerry Brown for a third term as Governor, and re-elected the moderately-liberal but remarkably ineffective Barbara Boxer as Senator. I voted for Brown, but only because when I voted there was still a chance that Whitman could win. But having lived through both his first stint as Governor (1974-82) and in Oakland when he was Mayor of that city, I'm unimpressed. In Oakland he simply rode the housing bubble up and got out before it collapsed, never noting--and apparently never seeing--that the bubble might ruin the lives of those who bought at bubble-inflated prices. Further the bubble forced thousands of low- and moderate-income Oaklanders to move to far-flung communities and commute back to their jobs. (That's why sustainability ratings should always include a ding for the people who can't afford to live in the community where they work and have to commute.)

Brown also refused to support Measure EE, the "just cause" eviction law passed by the voters there. That's because he raised tons of campaign money--and still does--from developers who want to ugly up the state with cheaply-built, but expensive, housing. And it's probably because he also believes that tenants should be non-persons who can be evicted for any reason or no reason at all. That tenants should have the right to dignity is beyond his ken.

When he was Governor the first time, he refused to advocate for statewide "renter rebate" legislation, which would have forced landlords to share their Proposition 13 tax savings with their tenants. As a young person, with few gray hairs and no wrinkles, I figured out how our little group of demonstrators could get into his office in San Francisco's State Building undetected. We brought our demonstration to his office, where he informed us that the renter's rebate was a "local issue"--uh, Proposition 13 was a statewide initiative, and that we had "Mau-Maued" him. Now I must admit that I'd never before, and haven't since, been compared to Dedan Kimathai and Stanley Mathenge, and was a little flattered. The other lesson I took from that is that the problems of affordable housing and tenants' rights are always somewhere he isn't. If he's a local official, it's a state or federal problem. If he's a state official, it's a local problem--or a federal one. Well, I guess he's consistent.

And Californians once again proved that they weren't willing to be grown-ups and pay for the services they want. They added more fees to the list of taxes and fees that require a 2/3 vote for passage, making it more difficult for the state to raise money--and giving a minority control of taxation. In particular Proposition 26 would make it more difficult to force polluters to pay the cost of the damage they do. Did no one note that Chevron was a major funder--Chevron, folks, Chevron! And Proposition 24 went down too, but that's because the campaign against it suggested--no, lied and said--that small business would face higher taxes and California would lose jobs. It was actually a somewhat complicated bill to tax corporations more effectively, and would have had virtually no impact on jobs. But it was complicated enough that most people couldn't understand it.

'Nuf said. Oh, except that I actually got quoted in another blog. I couldn't believe it, but it's here. See the second paragraph from the end. I don't necessarily agree with the author, but being quoted by someone I don't know is so cool.

Update 11/6/10: My brother has become convinced that joining the Tea Party is the way to keep Republicans out of power. In furtherance of this goal, he has apparently signed me up for membership in the local Tea Party. I hope that he was only joking, but should my Tea Party t-shirt and "Mama Grizzlies for Palin" bumper sticker arrive in the mail, I fully intend to burn them both. I wonder if anyone has an anti-Palin bumper sticker in defense of wolves. (One of the grossest things you'll ever see is the "hunting" of wolves in Alaska, which is done by chasing the innocent beasts in helicopters and then shooting the exhausted creature.)

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