Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Two General Rules for Voting

I mailed my absentee ballot today. Aside from the headline races for Governor and Senator, I was astonishingly ignorant (maybe not so astonishing to you, dear reader) about the down-ballot races and the propositions. I cast my vote for secretary of state, county superintendents and supervisors, insurance commissioner, controller, treasurer, and state assembly based on a single-line description of candidates’ occupations. Mine wasn’t an uplifting example of enlightened citizenship.

I follow two general rules when voting for—it would be more accurate to say against--candidates and propositions about which I know little or nothing:

1) I don’t vote for lawyers. Some of my best friends are lawyers, and they’re some of the smartest and most honest (really!) people I know, but lawyers are vastly over-represented in government. The legal mentality---I know I’m exaggerating—believes that a desirable outcome can be obtained by passing the right law or by crafting a regulation with just the right words. That’s not how the world works; the right words don’t clean up oil spills or dissuade people from crossing the border illegally or produce quality cars and emergency rooms.

2) I don’t vote for propositions. Somehow I’ve managed to live over half a century without the five state ballot initiatives that have been proposed this year. New laws usually add to the burden, not the joy, of living. Unless there is a severe problem that our elected representatives have decided not to address--such as the State’s overflowing treasury from a 1970’s real-estate boom that produced the property-tax limits of Proposition 13—I automatically vote against propositions. (One cheerful exception would be a law that retires or replaces two or more others; wake me when that happens.) © 2010 Stephen Yuen

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