As you may have heard, it's election week. Tomorrow we have a historic opportunity to turn what started out as a long shot grassroots movement into a real opportunity for nation wide change. To me, this election is not only about a vast divide in policy, but a vast difference in ideology. We have the chance to move our country toward equity, opportunity, creativity, and education. What more important ideals are there if not those? If you need one last push, or if you need to know where to vote, take a look at the latest (and last?) video of this election season.
We are all generally less informed about the 15 propositions on the California ballot. Though my research was not exhaustive, I have scoured the for and against positions, the rebuttals, and the press on most of them, and offer the following for anyone who cares to read my conclusions:
1A (Safe, Reliable, High-speed passenger train bond) and R (Traffic Relief, Rail extensions, Reduce Foreign Oil Dependence): These two transit measures are highly controversial as light rail and subway take a much higher up front cost to produce than buses, yet are much less flexible, carry fewer total passengers, and tend to cater to a more affluent ridership. The bus system in LA is a system of necessity for LA's working poor and is often short-changed in the allocation of funds. R in particular is a regressive tax, burdening all who live in LA county an additional 1/2 cent sales tax for the next 30 years. The Bus Riders Union and the Strategy Center are OPPOSED to R. However, I fear we will not be able to get a better option on the table for comprehensive transit planning that includes transit variety and forward-thinking strategies for mobility, so I'm supporting both 1A and R. If you want to read their position, though, here is a link.
2 (Standards for Confining Farm Animals): This seems to be an 'animal rights' bill, but in actuality it also has several implications for health and disease, as well as balancing the opportunities for small farms with the monopolies of their large bossy brothers. I'm voting yes on 2 because of those latter reasons.
4 Waiting period and parental notification before termination of minor's pregnancy, initiative CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT) NO NO NO on 4. By requiring any woman under 18 to seek parental approval and abide by a 48 hour waiting period prior to receiving an abortion, countless teenagers will seek dangerous, possibly life threatening alternatives. In addition, the right to confidential counseling and reproductive choices should be extended to all women, regardless of age. What we really need is accessible and accurate sex education and birth control options so every woman is knowledgeable and prepared - if at all possible - prior to the time of unwanted pregnancy.
5 (nonviolent drug offenses, sentencing, parole, and rehab) I'm voting yes on 5, which invests in treatment programs that help keep those at risk from enacting crimes in the first place.
6 (police and law enforcement funding, criminal penalties and laws) The Strategy Center says it better than I can: Proposition 6 exploits the fear of crime in urban areas in order to position the prison and police system as the one and only solution to the symptoms of urban neglect and structural racism—drugs, crime and violence—and in doing so, further criminalize the youth and communities of the inner city and further take from social welfare programs. No on the 6.
7 (renewable energy generation): This is a hidden agenda initiative which actually does not support the best and most productive environmental policy. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, this and the 10 (alternative fuel vehicles and renewable energy) are misleading and misguided. No on both 7 and 10.
8 (eliminates rights of same-sex couples to marry. initiative CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT) NO NO NO NO on 8. No matter how you feel about gay marriage - which I aggressively support - our constitution (state or federal) is not intended to TAKE AWAY the rights of any individual in our country. Support equal rights for everyone - no no no on 8.
9 (criminal justice system, victim's rights, parole, initiative constitutional amendment and statute) Again, The Strategy Center: Nicholas' Initiative - Weakens the limited rights of parolees. Prop 9 masks its intentions in the concept of “victims rights.” While no one deserves to be the victim of violence and its pain and trauma are not easily reconcilable, it is necessary that we challenge the reactionary nature of the victim’s rights movement that in fact increases the intensity of state violence against Black and Latino communities. In 2007, of the approximately 173,000 California prisoners, 50% are in for technical parole violations (meaning no new “crime” has occurred), and less than 1% of 5,520 scheduled hearings resulted in someone being released from prison. No on 9.
12 ( veteran's bond act of 2008) - Yes on 12, which is a no cost initiative that extends a program of loans for VA home buying.
The three I have not covered I simply don't know enough about. They sound good on paper - more children's hospitals, more school support, safe healthy neighborhoods - but the first especially seems to already have money in the bank unspent. My inclination from my own reading is No on 3 (hospitals), and Yes on J and Q (community colleges and schools).
Whatever side you take, I encourage you to VOTE, and at the end of the day, fingers crossed, to CELEBRATE.
(thanks to Alvaro, my own personal science advisor, for working through these with me in the car to Nevada this weekend! Photo credits from the Henderson rally go to him, with my touch of design. GObama!)