Politics through ruse-colored glasses
Notes from the political think tank (aka the hot tub) here at Clear Creek Ranch.
It is the time of crocuses and caucuses – the springtime election season is upon us. Elections represent the continued triumph of voters’ hopes over a lifetime of bitter disappointment. The electoral process has little to distinguish it from a high school popularity contest. Thankfully, my district’s supervisor isn’t up for re-election this year. No character assassinating campaign fliers clogging my mailbox by the ream. No garish billboard-sized signs to identify which owner of which unkempt yard endorses which smiling candidate.
As always, the party line out here is, on principle, to vote out all incumbents, irrespective of their record (or rap sheet, as the case may be). Anagram enthusiasts will notice that a “bum” always lies scrambled within each incumbent.
Incumbent comes from the Latin: to lie down, to rest. May all incumbents rest in peace, on their own time, and lie no more. Lame ducks belong at the veterinarian’s office, not behaving like bush-league ayatollahs, making policy decisions for which they can’t be held accountable.
We generally vote by absentee ballot here at the Ranch. It beats queuing up at the polls, standing in a cardboard box and marking up the ballot behind a plastic garbage-can- liner curtain.
The county clerk’s office will, on request, put us on permanent absentee status, but we like to keep our options open. As does the county clerk, apparently. She angrily tendered her resignation last year and then decided to hang around indefinitely anyway.
Our last election packet contained factual errors on some of the statewide issues that were corrected by a postcard from the clerk’s office. And the back page contained a message telling me that I’d automatically receive an absentee ballot in the mail. When I called the clerk’s office, they laughed and said to ignore that, it was another of “those darned printing mistakes.” I was advised to request my absentee ballot in writing. Good thing I didn’t rely on the clerk’s office “official” correspondence. I’d still be waiting for my ballot.
And there are things to decide this election. Like bond issues. One promises to solve the state’s financial problems. A new encumbrance from the incumbents. Does it make sense to borrow vast amounts of money and entrust it to the very people whose past fiscal fiascos caused the original problem?
These are the same folks who pay school teachers a barely living wage and yet can never figure out how to pay for these highly predictable costs without an annual “budget crisis.”
What about those positions, like judgeships, where the incumbent generally runs unopposed? It would be career suicide for a local attorney to run against a sitting judge and lose. We should be able to vote “Yes” or “No” for an unopposed judge, and if the “No” votes prevail, perhaps he should be de-benched and face an open election.
Some candidates want to “close the gates behind us and preserve our Gold Rush-era heritage.” They need to do a little research in the photo section at the Searls Library. Quality of life is a phrase with an ever-shifting definition. Panoramic sketches of Nevada City from that era show a biomass-less landscape – not a tree in sight. And, I’m betting, quite a bit of horse poop everywhere. A perfect accompaniment for the “bed of ruses” that is politics.
A final suggestion from this political observer: On Election Day, it is incumbent upon you to vote out the incumbents.
And keep an eye on the new guys. You’ll have a long list of reasons to vote them out, come the next election.
Mike Drummond is a Nevada County writer whose column appears on Tuesday. You can write him in care of The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945; or e-mail him at email@example.com.
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