Thursday, October 28, 2010


I'm sure someone said elections are the great American pastime. And if it hasn't been said yet, it should've.

Elections are wonderful for bellyachin'. Conservatives bellyache about the liberals. Liberals bellyache about conservatives. Both camps bellyache about the non-participants, who in turn bellyache about the whole thing.

Firemen all of a sudden become very important. So do teachers. Every two years education is inflated to The Most Important Issue Facing Our Country. Then the rhetoric goes away again, and the schools stay very much the same.

Here in California the political climate has been tremendously heated. The ads are non-stop. Meg Whitman, Jerry Brown, Carly Fiorina, Lee Stone, Tom Torlekson (sp?). Some races are garnering international attention, like Whitman's spending, while others you'd only care about in San Mateo County, or Pacifica.

I wonder who'll be SF's mayor after Newsom. Also, if the World Championship Giants can have beards why can't politicians? Some of SF's former mayors, like Sutro, had incredible facial hair.

Hats and facial hair - two male fashion standbys - gone with WWII as far as I can tell. But I digress.

In a few days we'll all vote (if we haven't already) and some stories will gladden our hearts, while others anger us and probably a few surprise us. As the camps become increasingly disparate then the elections will become increasingly important - eight years of hard work to undue the mess of the last eight years, and then when the rival gets elected another eight years to mess it up again. It only depends on your point of view of which party makes the messes.

Many of the incessant ads are patently false, and ethics committees are quick to point out which candidates are fine with that so long as they get in office. Unfortunately the ethics committees don't run ads themselves, so people who don't do research are likely to just listen to the ads and vote on the rhetoric.

I suppose voting on rhetoric will be good in one way: no matter which candidate you vote for, at any level of office, they want to help fix education. Republicans, Democrats and Independents all agree. They may say that their opponent has a terrible past, or is lying, when they say they want to help. But if you listen to the opponent's ads they will assure you that education is actually their primary concern. Oh joy.

The other evening I was discussing with a friend how different our political process would be if voting was mandatory. Think of it! The fringe element, on either side, being a minority. Wouldn't that be nice? No highly-organized loonies adversely derailing the process of government. Tea Partiers would maybe get a single candidate. Maybe. And if you don't like anyone, but are forced to vote? Well, as someone else pointed out, you can always write-in Mickey Mouse.

Not that I'd ever want Mickey to run government. His track record is laughable.

So here's to democracy, American-style (hot and spicy, with gravy.) May the first days of November usher in candidates who are sound, and policies that are reasonable.

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