The thoughts that were thunk and the goings on of my life.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Tally the Votes

First off I'd like to show you a little map of just how corrupt our districting was. I heard the Dems whining a few years ago, and now I finally see why.

It's ridiculous that parts of Austin are included in the same districts as suburbia Houston. Or the fact that all of the Dem strongholds on the border of Mexico are broken into thin slivers that end up being majority Repub. The needs of the residents from one part to the other are incredibly different; how can you effectively represent the people if they really have nothing in common because the district has no commonality? Why can't we just make simple districts by area?

The root problem is that lawmakers set up their own districts, and I think that needs to come to a halt if we're ever going to make this country a better place. Setting your own district is like me setting my own boss...of course I'm going to pick the guy that likes me, but that means I'll work all that much less because I know I can always get a good review. Or having a popularity contest, but only your best friends can vote...oh and make sure it's different groups of friends so that even if you're not the most popular in any one group you'll still get the most votes from all of the different groups.

But on to the point of this topic: Who am I going to vote for in this election?

This is actually much tougher than you might think. For the past 2 weekends I've bought the paper in hopes that there would be a nice and simple spread of all the candidates, what they support, achievements, and failures are. Then let me choose based off of the issues. Unfortunately there is nothing in the paper. And when you want to find any information you get something horrible like this which simply shows that they like candidate X, but no reasons no rationale. If you do some digging you can find why they support candidate X...however, they only pump up the positives and don't even mention what their opponents might do. That's TERRIBLE journalism. Give me the facts, show me the different viewpoints and I'll decide the best person. Your JOB your primary job as a paper is to inform the people. I am frankly appalled at the poor job that our local paper does in this category and after their recent ad campaign focused solely on sexual innuendo (Are you getting it?), I don't know if I can ever buy an Austin American Statesman again. My job as a citizen is to think and choose, don't just pretend that I can do neither...cause I sure thought about not buying your paper...and now I've chosen.

Fortunately I found one decent source where I least expected it. News8Austin. Turns out most of the information in here is really good. They simply ask a few questions of each candidate that's at least seriously in the running and then give you links to their websites. Much better. Simply a statement of the facts and that's it.

Now let's get to the real votes:
  • Governor:
    • Rick Perry: No way. The man makes a good yell leader, but I've yet to see any solid leadership from him ever. Most people that I know in the gov't organizations that work around him consider him to be a jerk, and he has a full-time makeup artist at his side all the time. There are so many things that he could have done and failed to show vote for governor is against Perry.
    • Chris Bell: Pure politician. His ideas are generally bad and center on taxing more and spending more.
    • Carol Keeton-Strayhorn: Her platform is that she had sex and birthed children who later begat children. Um...I need a bit more than that. Digging into the issues you see the only thing she really has a clear idea on is education. Unfortunately within 2 seconds you can tell she is a pawn in the Teacher's Union's hands (simply throwing more money at teachers won't make them better). All of her ideas are just bad. Education is a business. It's time that we started treating it as it is.
    • Kinky Friedman: As an individual he's probably the worst candidate out there. The problem is, he's the only one trying to think outside of the box. I absolutely love some of his ideas (and he has the best website of any politician I've ever seen).
      1. The idea of centering the State of Texas as the primary source of renewable energy is genius. It would guarantee our prominence in the world for the next generation.
      2. Private funding of High School sports. We have plenty of money to educate kids. The problem is too many funds are diverted to sports programs.
      3. CHIP. As much as I don't like welfare programs I don't think you should take it out on the kids, they didn't make the choice to have crappy parents. Let's keep it well funded, the payoff will be worth it by having healthier adults.
      4. National Guard on the border. That's where they should be. If the Fed Gov't can't help us, we need to help ourselves until they get their heads out of their butts.
      5. Same day voter registration. As a college student it was hard to know where to vote, but I knew I needed to. Most people don't think about elections really until a few days beforehand.
        1. I would also like it to just be a system where you swipe your drivers license/state ID. It's all computerized anyways, just compare the number to one in the database...eliminates voter fraud and maximizes democracy.
      6. Legalize Gambling. I think this is a horrible idea. But it's the only one I disagree with him on. Fortunately this would never pass, so I'm not too worried about it.
    • Vote goes to - Kinky. He is the only one actually trying to think of some unique ideas that I think would do well to be implemented. While not perfect I think he's the only one that can actually see Texas for what it is.
  • U.S. Senate
    • Kay Bailey Hutchison: From about 4 Republican friends working for organizations in Washington D.C. I found out that she is known for being the biggest b!tch in Washington and has an extremely high turnover as a result. More importantly if you look at her campaign platforms and reasons people support her is because she brings money to Texas. I'm sorry, but that's what is wrong with Washington. She should show how much money she saved the whole US, not just how much in funds she was able to secure for pet projects. I really don't want to vote for this candidate.
    • Barbara Radnofsky: I like most of her ideas and she seems fairly conservative, right up until she talks about how to pay for it all, educate people, and pulling out of Iraq quickly.
    • Vote goes to - neither. I don't think either of them deserve a real vote, so I'll probably pick a Libertarian candidate to up the party's recognition.
  • U.S. Representative
    • Michael McCaul: Very standard Republican fare. Seems to think that security is being helped by Iraq. No real ideas. Your trophy wife and blonde children have nothing to do with my vote. Get them off of your front page. You're too vanilla anyways. Next.
    • Ted Ankrum: His main platform appears to be that he's not a Republican. Well, I hate to break it to you, but the Democrats aren't the only, we need more parties. He does have a few good ideas. If he was the only candidate I would vote for him...but he's not.
    • Michael Badnarik: Seems to be the one libertarian with a chance. Also wins points for his references to V is for Vendetta (one of the best messages in a movie this year - ad). Has a very well thought out concise website (huge plus!), and I really like his ideas. It's really nice to have someone think instead of just talk.
    • Vote goes to - Badnarik he thinks, understands more about our district than most, has some great positions, and we could use a fresh candidate that's not your standard vanilla or chocolate. (Also a little thanks to Allen for commenting within minutes of my blogging even though we've never met. Really impressed to see people actively using the internet instead of commercials to promote their candidates!)
  • State Representative
    • Mark Strama: Wants to redistrict (see above maps), against toll roads, restore funding to CHIP, wants to prevent 'open space' development...I like parks and natural areas...don't let Austin become like Round Rock or worse, Houston.
    • Jeff Fleece: Is for school choice, wants communities to be able to de-annex themselves if the city fails in their civic services, wants to stop tolls once roads are paid for (I think there should be a counter that shows the balance going down with each toll).
    • Vote goes to - Unsure. Neither seems all that great. May be another case of voting for the Libertarian to bolster a third party.
I think the bottom line for voting is that you should NEVER vote for the lesser of two evils. The fact is that you shouldn't vote for anybody that you think is evil. America is so obsessed with our two party system that we think voting for a third party is 'throwing your vote away'. The problem is, probably 1/2 of the people voting for a typical candidate don't like the candidate. So why not vote for somebody you actually think could make a difference. Because there are a lot of changes that need to take place, and voting the same candidates in will not create that change.

Oh, and the Propositions. I don't feel like going into it. Here's a synopsis:
  1. Roads - They're bad, vote yes
  2. Flood control - too expensive for what they're doing, vote no.
  3. Parks - I love Austin's parks. Keep more of a good thing, vote yes.
  4. Art - Funding of racism and art that couldn't make it on its own, vote hell-no.
  5. Housing - Creates unnecessary local-level welfare, vote no.
  6. Central Library - Central Libraries are not the future, vote no.
  7. Police & EMS - Some areas have developed without adequate resources, vote yes.
Finally one bit of fun. Here's the best political ad of the entire election:
See Raj Run - What do Elephants, Mariachi Bands, and the Mexican Border have in common?
Fast forward to 4:14 in for the good stuff.


Allen said...

Good thought process, but you left out James Werner, LP candidate for governor.

And since you didn't choose on CD 10, may I suggest you vote for Badnarik, the Libertarian? He's the only one who CAN represent all the people in a diverse gerrymandered district like TXcd10, because he doesn't do special-interest or pork-barrel politics. Instead, he defends what's fundamentally important to all of us and leaves the details of our lives to ourselves, as should be done with any adult.

Thanks for thinking!

Allen Hacker
campaign manager,
Badnarik for Congress

Otis said...


Thanks for the comment. I accidentally published my post before I finished it, but I'm definitely voting for Badnarik.

Tangentally related to the election, I really recommend that everyone take a look at this. Definitely helps put the "War on Terror" into a better light, and makes you realize we're fighting the wrong things.

Get out and Vote!

Anonymous said...

I forgot how complicated voting can be till today when I voted in California. To make it fair no party's candidate was in the same place on any two races. Most races had at least six candidates. Then there were the propositions, all 14 of them. The entire ballot was 12 computer pages long - then you had to print it out onto an adding machine size paper that went directly into the ballot box. At least there won't be any hanging chads.

Anonymous said...

I can understand most of your reasoning, even if I don't agree with your decisions, for just about everything - except Propositions 4 + 5.

Prop 4 - The Austin Film Studios need an upgrade, and Austin is positioning itself to get more "movie biz".. and it can't do that with aging facilities. I think the Austin Chronicle had a spiel about this, which is a good point even if you're not a chronicle kind of person. The movie industry brings a lot of money to the area, and upgrading the facilities will bring even more - hopefully enough to overcome the expenditure on the culture centers. Also it helps fund a rebuild of the Zach Scott theatre, which is too small for its britches. Jose's performed with them in the past (paid performaces for the kids show this past spring, actually), and it's a really important part of the local theatre culture. It's legitimate art that does make it on it's own.

Prop 5 - The average household in Austin brings in 40k a year. The average house in Austin is 165k to buy. A safe mortgage is one that is one that's only 2.5-3x your annual income. Clearly there's a great divide for a lot of Austin families. Investors are swamping the market here, now that California's not a safe bet anymore, and with a booming population it's important to maintain affordable housing. If we give a leg up to those families making less than the norm, they can actually own their housing instead of renting, which prevents housing bubbles and increases their social investment in the community. I know this is a tough sell to you probably, but I think it's great that Austin is trying to address the issue now.

I know it doesn't matter now, since they passed, but I thought I'd give the other side's perspective on the issue.

Oh, and totally on the districting issue. I have two ideas to fix it - mandate that districts have a ratio boundary (cannot be more than 3 times as long as it is wide in any direction) or have a population density restriction (Cannot be too different in population density - this'll give the rural folks a vote that listen to them, and the urban folks a vote that's on their side too.)