S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Election day "blahs"

Elections are going on in my Texas town today. Voting today doesn't seem important, though I know on an intellectual level that every election is important. If I lived in Pakistan I know I would not have the voting "blah's." Michael J.W. Stickings at The Reaction revisits "Tyrant Musharraf" today, giving important insight into whether or not Pakistan's planned elections will ever happen. To quote,
. . . there may be elections in January, but they may not be free and fair. Elections that are rigged or somehow corrupt are hardly democratic. As well, elections mean very little, free and fair otherwise, without robust democratic institutions to lend them, and the political process generally, legitimacy. Will Musharraf allow for the holding of free and fair elections, and for the granting of genuine political power to Pakistan's existing democratic institutions? Or will he somehow ensure that he emerges victorious from the process, the appearance of democracy masking the farce within, the mirage of electoral legitimacy granting him protection from his critics and the authority to impose his tyrannical will on his country?

And what of Bush? Does he want genuine democracy in Pakistan -- that is, free and fair elections along with robust democratic institutions -- or is it only the appearance of democracy -- that is, a process to ensure Musharraf's ongoing rule -- that interests him? Musharraf is still his friend, after all, and Pakistan, rightly or wrongly, remains a close U.S. ally. It may simply be that Bush could no longer allow Musharraf to continue on his tyrannical path without intervening, without saying something. Musharraf went too far, his actions no longer defensible, the friendly alliance strained, hence Bush's pro-democracy rhetoric, hence issues of threats: Pull back, Pervez, take off your uniform, and hold an election. And make sure you win. In the meantime, I'll be sure to say the right things and threaten you, but that's just for show. Just like the election in January. Just behave yourself, my friend, and stop being so nakedly tyrannical. It's making us all look bad, and we can't have that.
I cannot get as excited somehow, about voting as I usually do, though I know I should. For most Texans amending the Texas Constitution is old hat to us, even though it would seem like a big deal in another state. We do it all the time.* It is an arcane artifact of our state's Constitution that has never been corrected. I identify with Pennsylvanian Jon Meza's article headlined,"Election 2007 | What election? Interest on hold until '08." Probably the only reason to go to the polls is to pacify my old League of Women Voters message in my head that my vote matters. If I lived in Houston I might even go to the trouble of downloading their LWV local "Voters Guide" (37 pages in PDF format).
Tired of my "blahs"? Blue Indiana's "Thomas" is actually excited about their elections. Third Party Watch uses an exclamation point it its headline: "Tomorrow is Election Day!" Maybe I should join a third party for more excitement.
Good reference resources: Five states will hold statewide and legislative elections, even though 2007 is an "off" year, according to this excellent C-SPAN "Election 2008" page. The Wikipedia Election 2007 page is also full of good info. You can check on what is happening in your area at this fun little all purpose website,
*The Texas Blue's George Nassar, a self-confessed Progressive, makes useful Constitutional amendment voting recommendations that follow:
So, in summary:

Proposition 1:
Correcting the Constitution to list Angelo State University as part of the Texas Tech system.
My vote: Yes.

Proposition 2:
Authorizing $500 million in additional state bonds for college student loans.
My vote: Yes.

Proposition 3:
Clarifying that the appraised value of a homestead for property taxes cannot increase by more than 10% in any year, even if more than a year has passed since the home was last appraised.
My vote: Yes.

Proposition 4:
Authorizing $1 billion in additional state bonds for prisons, DPS, mental health facilities and other state projects.
My vote: No.

Proposition 5:
Allowing small towns to grant tax breaks for downtown development if approved by local voters.
My vote: No.

Proposition 6:
Exempting motor vehicles used in business from property tax if they are also used for personal purposes.
My vote: Yes.

Proposition 7:
Allowing property that was sold to the government through eminent domain to be bought back by the seller at the original sales price if the government does not use the property.
My vote: No.

Proposition 8:
Changing the consumer protections for home equity loans.
My vote: Yes.

Proposition 9:
Exempting totally disabled veterans from property taxes.
My vote: Yes.

Proposition 10:
Abolishing the office of inspector of hides and animals
My vote: Yes.

Proposition 11:
Requiring how each legislator voted on the final vote on most legislative bills to be recorded and posted on the Internet
My vote: Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

Proposition 12:
Authorizing $5 billion in additional state bonds for highways.
My vote: No.

Proposition 13:
Allowing judges to deny bail to defendants in family violence cases who violate certain conditions of their initial release on bail.
My vote: No.

Proposition 14:
Allowing judges to serve their entire term of office even if they reach the mandatory retirement age of 75 while serving.
My vote: No.

Proposition 15:
Authorizing $3 billion in bonds for a new program to fund cancer research.
My vote: Yes.

Proposition 16:
Authorizing $250 million in additional state bonds for water and sewers in existing subdivisions that were developed with inadequate facilities.
My vote: Yes.

Of course, a number of these have good arguments on both sides, which you can find all over the press and the Internet. The most important thing (well, perhaps aside from voting for Proposition 11) is to actually go out and vote. The only way you can get your voice heard is to speak out in the first place. So find your polling location and go vote!
I think I will!
(Cross-posted at The Reaction.)
My “creativity and dreaming” post today at Making Good Mondays is a poem about making bridges.
Technorati tags:


Sal Costello said...

Beware of the Tax Wolf! Vote NO on Prop 12!

Proposition 12 is carefully crafted to trick Texans to vote for debt, future tax increases and toll roads paid for with our tax dollars (an unaccountable double tax). Prop 12 is TxDOT seeking taxpayers approval to take on $5 Billion of debt.

TxDOT has claimed they’ve run out of money, while they spend billions of our tax dollars to shift freeways to toll roads all across Texas (Dallas - SH121, San Antonio - SH281, Austin 71, 290 and 183) and to create the Trans Texas Corridor (TTC). The State Auditor caught TxDOT inflating it’s needs by $45 billion dollars this year and TxDOT continues to ignore the public by spending millions of our tax dollars on an ad campaign to sell us toll roads and TaxTags.

Proposition 12 is the largest proposed new debt on the ballot this year. It would authorize up to $5 billion dollars of state road debt to be repaid with general revenue, instead of dedicated transportation funds. Yet another accountability breech.

In 2001, Prop 15 (the first Tax Wolf in sheep's clothing) was put on the ballot and politicos promised it would help solve our transportation crisis by establishing the Texas Mobility Fund. Prop 15 became a constitutional amendment. Much like this years Prop 12, Prop 15 did not openly inform voters that TxDOT would use Texas Mobility Fund exclusively to shift our freeways to toll ways. Prop 15 took accountability and the will of the people out of the equation - so special interests could seize OUR LAND and OUR ROADS for profit.

Don’t be fooled again, help stop the tax wolf and vote NO on Prop 12

Sal "The Muckraker" Costello

betmo said...

i have no idea whether or not i have the 'blahs.' i voted for people i have no idea what they stand for- right down party lines. why? because in the grander scheme of things 1) they are the lesser of the two evils and 2) voting truly doesn't matter. it won't change anything local or national. the corporations let us vote to keep us thinking and believing that we still have a democracy of some sort. why did i bother? i will continue to exercise my right to vote until i am unable to do so- as a symbol and out of deference to the once great constitution of the united states of america.

The Future Was Yesterday said...

I was always taught Election Day was nearly sacred. But then, that was back when elections meant something.

"And what of Bush? Does he want genuine democracy in Pakistan -- that is, free and fair elections along with robust democratic institutions -- or is it only the appearance of democracy"
I fear your analysis had laser accuracy. Bush wants only that he can control; elections fair or not, be damned.

Carol Gee said...

Thanks to all of you for your comments. Sal, unfortunately I think every one of the proposed amendments passed.
betmo, your insight about the fact that we vote for ourselves is important. It is part of "living an examined life" I believe.

Future, you echo that with "election . . . nearly sacred." I was taught that, too. And it still matters, because we are all grains of sand on a common beach.