Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Election Day

California is a strange state. We elect a state legislature and then make all the governmental decisions via proposition. This year there are Props at the State level, most of them proposed by Our Governor. Then there are the city props. There are also county props. This year we only had to elect three actual humans; the rest was propositions of various sorts. And the advertising for a lot of these proposals makes considerable noise about the Evil of Legislators ("Hey, if the legislators are for it, I'm against it!"). But we don't seem to let the legislators do any legislating (all the big things are decided by You, the Voter, who can be swayed by advertising and don't have the time or resources to research the issues, and can be relied upon to vote emotion or pocketbook). This is a strange state.

I blame civics classes. I don't know what they're teaching kids these days, but I do know I grew up believing that government was a high calling. And I still believe that, somewhere deep in my cynical, irritable, panicky soul. Government may screw up, and because of the money and power involved, sometimes the wrong people are called to it. But I blame those people (I've got, as you might imagine, a long list of people I am happy to blame) and not governance. I don't want outsiders running my government; the learning curve is steep and time gets wasted. I want people who think that government is a high calling, and want to be part of that. You know, the kids who grew up thinking that anyone can grow up to be President, and doesn't regard that as an entitlement program or a curse.


Blogger TwosTools said...

As a product of a California public school education (down to college level), I can say that, at least in Los Angeles, we didn't have Civics classes. In fact, until Jr. High, we didn't have formal History or English lessons either. Those were subjects that were taught when we were misbehaving during singing (though there were "reading," phonics and spelling periods, and some structured grammar things like SRAs). I was blessed with good teachers and a passion for books, so I managed to learn anyway.

In junior high, I had my first semester of "Government," which was fortunately with a good teacher, and we did things like theoretically play the stock market and discuss some of current events, but even still I don't recall specific things about the actual government or legislature except maybe statistical facts about how many reps there were.

In high school, I had my first history teacher that made us think, instead of reading to ourselves and answering the questions in the back.

In a culture where people actually say things like "Yeah, I heard that book is really good -- can't wait for the movie to come out," there's not much thinking about voting. Or even acknowledgement that one's opinions may be swayed a particular way because the advertising said so. There are factions of thinking people, but they require encouragement.

San Francisco, being more urban and compact, takes these things a bit more seriously I think. But it is a strange state, I agree.

e of the sTools
*stepping off the Slam L.A. soap box*

10:02 AM  

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