What Happened in California Yesterday

Totally depressing.

Meg Whitman doesn't vote for 28 years straight, spends $71 million dollars, and wins the Republican gubernatorial primary. In the U.S. Senate Republican primary, Carly Fiorina trails Tom Campbell, who I strongly supported, and so in the final weeks writes herself another $2 million check, floods the State with TV ads, and lands Sarah Palin's endorsement who robo-calls voters. Almost immediately, she takes a 14 point lead to the finish line.

In the Democratic Senate race, Barbara Boxer easily beat Mickey Kaus. No surprise there, but the fact that Kaus garnered nearly 100,000 votes on the platform "I'm a Democrat who will not be a whore to unions and will not let them bankrupt our State as they have been doing" is itself a depressing indictment of the Democratic mainstream.

There are other reasons to find a tall building and jump. The grotesque amount of personal wealth involved. The fact that Sarah Palin, a Great American Embarrassment, has sway with so many voters and remains such a fixture on the GOP stage. The fiscal recklessness of San Francisco voters who easily approved yet more bond packages for school facilities despite zero evidence from the last 20 years that the city government is at all capable of managing money.

There's more. There's Fiorina mocking global warming by calling it "the weather"; there's the New Yorker profile of Tom Campbell that spent several paragraphs on whether Campbell way back when voted against taking aid money from the neediest in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America and re-appropriating it as economic aid to Israel as was proposed, and whether that means AIPAC hates him forever; there's Steve Poizner's lockstep convictions that the way to solve California's fiscal problems is to lower taxes, lower taxes, lower taxes, because we all know that lowering taxes increases revenue!!!

There's politics for you.


"So Ben, seriously, why do you vote? You know your vote doesn't change the outcome of the election, right? Voting is irrational," asks the economics undergraduate. Why yes, I respond, my single vote won't decide the election, but studies show that when I vote it increases the likelihood my friends and family vote, and they will likely vote the way I do because people imitate the other people they know. It's magnified in my case because of The Blog and The Twitter. When I say, "I'm voting for John Doe," many thousands of other people may vote for John Doe as a result. And dozens or hundreds or thousands of additional votes — the chances that that decides an election go way up.

14 comments on “What Happened in California Yesterday
  • I do agree — not voting for 28 years is an insult to America. However, I can’t help but be somewhat optimistic about the results. Regardless of a candidate’s party affiliation, I will almost always vote against a career politician. There is something to be said for a person who has balanced a budget, or know the ins and outs of creating jobs and growth. We need someone to run this great Country like a business, now a torts class.

  • So you vote because you can influence people.

    But that’s hardly a convincing argument for anyone else to vote, including those in your sphere or influence.

  • – The syndrome of rich people buying seats (not unknown here in Boulder!) is a consequence of campaign finance rules. They restrict other means of raising money, but the First Amendment doesn’t allow them to restrict using your own.
    – The influence that Sarah Palin has proves that not everyone should be allowed to vote. How about we have requirements for citizenship *whether or not* you were born here?
    – Lower taxes may or may not increase revenue, but it does reduce spending. It’s the fiscal equivalent of not keeping chocolate in the house.

  • The reason I vote is not so I can influence people — it is so I can decide an election in a way I think is best. That’s the reason why anyone else should vote, too. Influencing people, to thus increases the chance my vote counts, makes my voting *rational*.

  • the current political landscape can be very depressing with all the idiots running amok… sometimes i think a monarchy is the way to go haha

  • Is there any sane person in this country who can’t see Palin for the fake she is? She had a simiilar effect on the election in my state of SC for Haley. It is almost too depressing to see the lack of true leaders available to vote for. Either multimillionaires, family legacies or both.

  • Where is the evidence that lower taxes reduces spending? If anything, the extreme differences in budget deficits & total debt in nineties vs. the oughties proves the opposite.

    Even Arthur Laffer says the higher-tax-rate nineties were superior. He is a self-described huge fan of Clinton’s tax policy.

  • It works in states that can’t run operating deficits. Obviously it doesn’t work at a federal level where they can just borrow instead. Please note that the post is about a state.

    Colorado is a great example. When you hear everyone whining about TABOR, you know that you’re keeping spending down.

    As with most economic matters, it’s difficult to have clean “evidence” since there are no good control conditions. I suppose one could look up the spending trajectory for states that have tax increase limits and don’t allow deficits, vs. others. In any case, obviously you’re right that my statement was too strong.

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