Rather than submitting a list of endorsements or suggestions for your review this election day, I'd like to suggest that you reconsider the value of even participating in the process at all.
There's been a lot of discussion of various platitudes this election season, as there is every four years. I see people on the television telling me that they expect some resurrection of "hope" or "change" if one candidate or another wins the election. The same thing goes, to a lesser degree, for local elections.
As with most vague statements, these slogans bear little connection to reality. In fact, I've found that most Bay Area people I've spoken with can't even articulate any specifics when I ask how their candidate will affect their life.
If you think about it for a moment, you'll realize that this isn't too surprising. What a preposterous concept for someone to think that some action by the government can give them "hope."
Now, don't get me wrong. I do believe that people are affected by whom they select to lead them. It's just that I believe people make systematic errors by selecting leaders who tell them what they want to hear instead of those who might do something that would improve conditions.
This is exacerbated by the fact that nearly everything government does or can do causes harm. So, when a politician promises to "do something," this nearly always translates to "hurt people." When the government does manage to do something which improves conditions, more often than not it is an accident.
There is an old saw that every urban community and every urban school district is dominated by Democrats. So why then do those in urban areas seem to blame Republicans for the ills they suffer? The same goes for suburban Republican voters.
The bottom line is that voters follow predictable patterns, repeating the same simple mistakes time and again. In this way, politics is just like capitalism. Just as people guide the economy through their largely random purchases, so too do they guide the government through largely random voting patterns.
So, there is largely no point to voting. Doing so wastes your time. Elections almost never come down to a single vote. And, even if "your" candidate wins, you have no concrete or meaningful way to translate that election win into predictable positive consequences for you.
As one friend put it, democracy is the American religion. In church, people pray to a higher power, hoping their conditions will change -- yet nothing predictable ever comes of it. In America, we cast ballots thinking it will make some difference. Yet the vote of any individual is irrelevant.
So why even bother spending time writing about political issues? I have a couple answers to that. First, I believe local politics has a better chance of being relevant to an individual than do state or national politics. Also, just as a matter of statistics, a local blogger might shift enough views to cause one or another proposition to pass. That is why this blog largely focuses on the local.
More importantly, I view politics as an excellent source of good humor. I enjoy watching politicians repeatedly lie to constituents about their plans to "solve" various problems. It is great fun to watch debacles like the Mandela Foods Cooperative.
Of course, the only reason why I can view the terrible actions of our local politicians with such good humor is that none of them really affect me -- aside from taxation, that is. And, as readers of this blog know, I view local taxation as somewhat positive as much of it is regressive, which drives out the poor and improves the community.
If I lived in inner-city Oakland and had to send my kids to the crazy liberals' school-shaped laboratories, I would probably feel different. I'd probably be angry, and I'd probably buy into messages of "hope" coming from above.