November 1, 2004

Endorsements: 2004 General Election

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at November 1, 2004 9:57 PM

I have returned from four Internet-deprived days! As predicted, I did not have time to compose an election endorsements post before I left; I will provide a shorter version of what I had in mind here, although I'm sure everyone will read it after going to the polls.

My sample ballot is four pages long, overrun by state and local ballot measures. As I read through the corresponding materials, I became more and more convinced that California's brand of direct democracy is a Bad Idea. On many of these initiatives a complex policy analysis would be required to come to the correct decision; I don't feel entirely comfortable voting on these with my limited understanding, and I'm relatively well-informed compared to a typical California voter. I'll avoid discussing those measures that I don't feel confident about; anyone who is more informed is encouraged to post a comment.

Since I need to do things like eat dinner and sleep, I haven't provided links to document some of the arguments I make below. You've probably seen some of them in previous posts, so I'm hoping this is ok. Feel free to challenge me and I'll see what I can come up with tomorrow.

On to the endorsements:

President and Vice President: John Kerry and John Edwards

Regular readers have heard many of the reasons for my choice already. I think the best summation was provided, ironically, by a White House senior aide in a recent article by Ron Suskind in the New York Times Magazine, who remarked that opponents of Bush don't like him because they (the opponents) belong to the "reality-based community". Bush, he said (approvingly!), does not study reality and make policies based on this; instead he wields his policies to create a new reality.

We've seen already in Iraq the disastrous results of ignoring the reality on the ground. I fear a similar disaster may yet be ahead with the federal budget, as Bush's irresponsible spending drives deficits higher and higher. Science may be the ultimate reality-based community, and I know I am not the only one appalled at the administration's disregard for scientists' findings, preferring instead the baseless claims of ideologues, religious fundamentalists, and corporate interests.

I am convinced that John Kerry is a member of the reality-based community. What his opponents deride as "flip-flopping" is, when not merely a distortion of his record, a reflection of his willingness to examine the facts and adjust policy as appropriate. Kerry's performance in the debates showed that he has a deep and informed understanding of issues, something that cannot be said of Bush, who proudly claims that he does not even read the newspapers.

One consequence of Bush's adherence to ideology over reality is that his administration does not hold itself accountable for its mistakes. Education Secretary Rod Paige retains his position even after his "Houston Miracle", the model for No Child Left Behind, was shown to be an Enron-style bookkeeping fraud in which huge numbers of drop-outs were simply swept under the rug. Condaleeza Rice still serves as National Security Advisor despite the vast amounts of bogus intelligence on Iraq that passed through her office. Donald Rumsfeld remains Defense Secretary after the abuses at Abu Ghraib destroyed the last remaining shreds of America's international reputation. No one was fired after 9/11, arguably the worst intelligence failure in American history. On the other hand, Bush does not hesitate to show the door to those subordinates who make true statements that contradict the party line. Paul O'Niell on the budget, Richard Clarke on counter-terrorism, Eric Shinseki on Iraq. No one loses his job in the Bush administration for incompetence; only for disloyalty.

Fortunately, Bush isn't the only one with the power to fire this bumbling crew. We, the American people, have the authority to send these guys packing. I encourage all of my readers to give Bush the pink slip tomorrow, and hire a member of the reality-based community for the position. Arcane Gazebo enthusiastically endorses John Kerry.

United States Senator from California: Barbara Boxer

When an important vote takes place in the Senate, I can look at the roll-call with the confidence that Senator Boxer will have voted the way I prefer. She's the rare politician whose views are close to mine, and I would endorse her over almost any opponent, certainly over the right-wing Bill Jones.

United States Representative (California 9): Barbara Lee

Congresswoman Lee is just what one would expect of Berkeley's representative; she is a bit too liberal even for Arcane Gazebo. However, as long as the corrupt, theocratic thug Tom DeLay runs the House, I will not vote for a Republican for Congress. The most important vote Barbara Lee will cast is for Majority Leader Pelosi, and that is a vote I can approve of wholeheartedly.

California Proposition 62: No

This proposition would eliminate primaries for state elections, and institute a plurality-with-runoff system. This has some advantages, but in the end I've decided it's a bad idea. This diminishes the coalition-building value of political parties, and removes any mechanism for Democrats to choose the candidate we think will best represent our party. The need to appeal to moderates in the first phase of the election will generate more bland choices like Gray Davis, and more celebrity novelty candidates like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

California Proposition 71: Yes

This allocates state funding for stem-cell research. California gets cutting-edge science, cures for debilitating diseases are potentially found, and it's a giant middle finger raised at the Bush administration and their anti-science policies. What's not to like?

Berkeley Measure Q: Yes

This takes a symbolic stand in favor of legalizing prostitution, and sets enforcement of prostitution laws at "the lowest priority". I support this on social libertarian grounds. (I'm not yet desparate enough to support it on self-interest grounds.)

Berkeley Measure S: No

This measure creates a 13-18 member Tree Board with up to two full-time staff. That's right, a Tree Board. Come on, do we really need 20 people to set the city's tree policy? One or even three people I might almost consider, but this is just ridiculous. Berkeley, this is why people make fun of you us.

Rebuttals, detailed policy analyses, and commentary/endorsements on other races or ballot initiatives in the comments are encouraged.


I'll just agree with your endorsement for Kerry/Edwards and leave it at that. I just voted and there were a ton of state initiatives, many of which I would have liked to actually read up about more. Oh well. ; ;

Posted by: Zifnab | November 2, 2004 1:29 PM

Oh dear god, did I misread the legalese!!!????!!! Please tell me this was different from the one that included a clause that said one couldn't do research on human cloning. Hmmm...maybe voting in the morning wasn't such a good idea.

Posted by: Mason | November 2, 2004 7:39 PM
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