California has some highly competitive races in Tuesday’s general election that are considered so close a winner cannot be predicted presently, as is true in many States. Candidates television advertisements and attacks are negative and have been vicious. Campaign spending has been incredibly high.
Incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat, is considered to be in a fight for her political life against Carly Fiorina, former Hewlett-Packard CEO. One most recent voter poll has the spread widening with Sen. Boxer 5% ahead of Fiorina. Another poll reports a much narrower spread with the candidates closer to being equal.
Boxer is attacked as being a habitual big spender throughout her twenty-eight Senate years. She is accused of representing all that’s wrong with government today, most notably because she supported Obama administration legislation, especially health care. Many other issues Boxer continues to support focus on immigration, environmental concerns, oil drilling, a woman’s right to choose, preservation of Medicare, and non-privatization of Social Security.
Carly Fiorina’s vulnerabilities include ads focused on the fact she was fired from HP, received typically high executive bonuses after she sent 30,000 U. S. workers jobs to China. Some of those workers appear in ads relating their personal experiences, including having to train the new employees who would replace them.
Interestingly, Fiorina now says little or nothing about her Republican affiliation (earlier she was endorsed by the Tea Party’s unofficial female leader.) Also, Fiorina doesn’t mention her previously stated support for her Party’s classic voter-divisive issues that call for privatizing Social Security, eliminating newly adopted health care reforms, supporting Arizona immigration policies, allowing offshore oil drilling, repealing a woman’s legal right to choose (Roe vs Wade.) Contrarily, she says she won’t hesitate to vote against her Party’s issue positions, but I haven’t heard her state any differences from the Republican Party line to date.
We’re also voting for a seat in the U. S. House of Representatives. The incumbent, David Dreier, has been part of the Republican Party voting block mired in ideology. Those Representatives failed to seek a way to effectively compromise for resolving the critical issues facing our nation. He has served almost thirty years in Congress, and in recent past elections experienced a decline in voter support, but hasn’t always had a strong opponent. The amount of support he receives this election will be interesting to see.
I haven’t noted that he offers to create anything new but Rep. Dreier will try to repeal the newly adopted health plan. Likely he will continue to support all his Party’s political positions in lock step, including privatizing Social Security. If the Republican Party becomes the Congressional majority, Representative Dreier will once again become Chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee.
Russ Warner, Democrat, opposes Dreier for the second time because he believes our California 26th District has not been well represented. Warner notes he is the owner of a small business while Rep. Dreier is the 20th richest person in the U.S. House of Representatives. Warner supports some significant opposing views to those of his opponent including legislation that would allow Medicare to negotiate prices with the drug companies. I did meet Mr. Warner but my schedule permitted me to talk only briefly with him. The Democratic Headquarters offered little printed issue material about him, but he referred me to his official website.
Multiple news reports reveal candidates for California Governor are breaking expenditure records. Democrat, Jerry Brown, a former governor from 1975-1983, is managing to keep up with his primary opponent, Republican candidate Meg Whitman. She is a former eBay CEO, who is breaking all campaign contribution records, even contributing 141.5 million of her personal funds in her effort to become California’s next Governor.
Is Whitman trying to buy the Governor's office? Will using her personal funds insure she will be more independent of outside influences? Will Brown be any more influenced by outside influences because he has had to rely on others for campaign contributions in order to compete?
Interestingly, one television ad I thought was amusing was a split screen showing our current Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Meg Whitman. He is shown speaking excerpted cliche-like promising statements from his old candidacy speeches, then Whitman is shown uttering the same words verbatim in her current campaign speeches. He has been unable to keep those promises so voters can decide for themselves how realistic it is to believe Whitman will be any more successful, or if it’s just more of the “tell the voter what they want to hear.”
Another interesting historical fact about Schwarzenegger centers on his becoming California’s Governor years ago. Rep. David Dreier promoted the candidacy from the very beginning. I was displeased that two years into our then Governor Davis’ term a recall was instituted because of a proposal he made to address our State’s financial crisis. Taxpayers certainly did not need to incur the additional expense of that special election. After a year or two when Gov. Schwarzenegger was also unsuccessful getting our State Legislators to compromise and resolve the problem, he then instituted the exact same proposal of the Governor he had replaced. Words and promises come easy for political candidates but often are only wishful thinking.
Be aware that periodic proposals continue to surface in the media promoting U. S. Constitution changes, specifically to enable Schwarzenegger to become President, as they have ever since he became California’s Governor. Presently, legally he cannot be President because he was born in a nation (Austria) other than the United States of America. Curiously, some Republicans have persisted in spreading the falsehood that our current President was born outside the U.S. If I believed in conspiracy I might wonder if there was a somehow-related political agenda.
I won’t go into our voting ballot’s State issues,including redistricting. One measure is designed to address the State of California's dire financial straits that have prevailed for too many years. Our State Legislature has been ineffective for these years, unable to even agree on passing an annual budget until months after the legal deadline. Part of the problem has to do with requirements a 2/3 majority have to agree for the budget and other legislation to pass. This provision was established because the State Legislator’s were freely spending tax monies and some effort needed to be taken to force them to be more thoughtful. Now we are at the opposite end of the continuum where no meaningful expenditure can be made because not enough legislators can agree.
There are State Measures on which we’ll vote this election that can rectify some of these and additional shortcomings, but these measures also carry provisions of which I am leery or do not support. If I choose to cast any of my votes favorably that will be because I’ve decided to compromise – something State and Federal Legislators have been unable to do for too many years.
The outcome of voting on one of our State Measures is likely of considerable national interest – legalizing marijuana. The pros and cons on this issue are being highly debated. Currently statistical predictions indicate the measure is going down to defeat. Los Angeles Times columnist, Steve Lopez, conducted a driving test while under the weed’s influence with the approval and under the supervision of the California Highway Patrol to assess how his skills behind the wheel would be affected. He wrote about his experience and observations HERE.
On the really basic local level my Claremont community is being asked to pass a highly controversial $95 million school bond issue. Bond issues have been passed here previously, but I have never before known one to generate such resistance. In fact, usually there has been little or no opposition in this city that has been very supportive of education throughout the over thirty years I’ve lived here. A bond issue was passed a few years ago which many residents believe was not spent wisely, nor were the funds dispensed as this large objecting group expected. This new bond issue is believed by those in opposition to not clearly define the projects and priority list for how these new monies will be spent. They demand more transparency, specific itemizations and greater accountability.
This local school level is exactly where voting is most critical and needs to receive the attention of all voters everywhere. Similar transparency and accountability should progress to all government levels including city and upward. All too often, for too many years, non-Presidential elections draw too few voters, but this needs to change. Maybe voting this time signifies the general public’s increasing awareness we need to be involved in all elections.
Low voter turnout percentages in U.S. elections always amaze me. This general election is no exception with statisticians predicting 30%, but they report a higher turnout could be as much as 40%.
I expect virtually everyone in this nation considers they are a patriotic good citizen. Most individuals probably highly value our republic system of government that emphasizes individual rights while incorporating democratic principles. Surely preserving our personal freedoms is highly desired by all citizens. Our systems basic fundamental responsibility requires each of us to participate in selecting those who govern us that formulate the laws, rules and regulations we follow, yet less than half, or often just a third, of qualified voters actually cast a ballot in our elections.
Recently I heard a news report attributed to statistic compilers that had concluded, even if every citizen voted that the breakdown of vote percentages per candidate would be about the same as those actual percentages based on the low voter turnout. Perhaps that provides some solace to those of us who vote and wish more people would. Still, when my chosen candidate or issue does not succeed I feel some disappointment, even anger, that had others cast a ballot their votes might well have altered the elections outcome, my future and our nation’s future.
Pundit speculation continues about exactly what sort of referendum this Presidential mid-term vote will reflect. I think the main message will be the electorate continues to be angered with the failure of our governing officials to more efficiently work together toward solving our nation’s serious problems. I also believe an unrealistic impatience prevails among citizens who fail to recognize the length of time and actions required for our full recovery. I strongly believe, no matter who is elected, congressional actions need to be taken to include provisions that reverse the trend toward further elimination of our nation's middle class.
I think a healthy change that would facilitate individuals working together to solve our country's problems would be more likely to occur if sanity through civil discourse prevailed, if rhetoric would be toned down in an effort to heal our nation's bitter polarization. We can continue to disagree without such animosity, without resorting to name-calling and to agree to disagree by respecting the views of others.