Back in 2016, I published a blog post1 about the major election results for my state and country (California, USA). While I probably agree with most of my feelings at the time, I know for a fact that I made some bad choices with my votes, and an invalid hot take. I want to revisit this, and respond to it with a little more knowledge and hindsight.
Hilary Clinton vs Donald Trump
The voting system in this country is a joke. The only countries less democratic are those without any voting, and maybe “votes” with only one candidate.. which includes portions of the US. This is a large topic, but one of the easiest problems to attack is the presence of the electoral college. The popular vote doesn’t actually matter, what matters is a select group of 507 representatives. Most of the time, they vote according to what the populace votes for, but not accurately. Fortunately, the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact intends to fix this.
The more immediate problem is who got elected that time. Trump is a moron, and caused a lot of harm.. and that’s even before COVID-19 became a problem. He is directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans, and partially responsible for millions worldwide. Of course, every American president has a body count2 3, but Trump is a special level of stupid, careless, and evil.
That said, I’m still not sure he was the wrong person out of the two choices available4. Hilary wanted to go to war with Russia, a decision that could easily be civilization-ending when promoted by a competent politician. Of course, Russia interferes with all US elections, and in this case assisted the winner.
Flavors of Bad
I don’t know much about the particular candidates that ran for Senate and House of Representatives’ seats, but the Republican Party won the majority, and have a history of helping the wealthy grow their wealth at the expense of worldwide suffering. That said, I’m not holding the Democratic Party up as some kind of hero. They are responsible for the majority of the harm that Republicans have not caused, and have a history of pretending to be held up by Republicans when nothing of the sort has occurred.
I’m going to skip over propositions I can’t have a valid opinion on, as I lack knowledge on the specifics, with the exception of stating that on the surface 51-57, 59-65, 67 seem like progress. Of these, the following passed: 51, 52, 54-57, 59, 63-65. (Full results.)
58 (English-only schooling) and 66 (limiting death penalty appeals) are objectively bad propositions that passed, discriminating against non-English-speakers and increasing support for state-sanctioned murder. 62 (death penalty removal) might’ve been a good step towards prisoners’ rights – but did not pass. Of course, US prisons are somewhere between a death camp and slavery on average5.
I previously agreed with 58. At that time, I did not realize how much of a discriminatory it is to allow English-only schools. On the surface, it sounds fine, the majority is English-speaking, and should not have to be hampered by provisions for non-English-speakers in areas where there aren’t any non-English-speakers, right? The problem is these areas don’t really exist, and this just hides them farther under the rug6.
Many of us believed that 67 (single-use grocery bag ban) was a positive. I was led to believe that the benefits were grossly outweighed by unintended costs and increases in plastic usage to make reusable bags. For example, it would take a “reusable” bag thousands of uses to make up the difference in environmental impact of its creation vs a single-use bag. This is a feat that is not likely to be achieved. In fact, this post was written poo-pooing this proposition until I went to gather sources.
Turns out, it’s a lot more complicated!7 While the negative facts I’d heard are true, the result of California’s ban is the majority of purchases are being made without any bag use. Turns out, they just didn’t need them for the most part. (It is important to specify that these results are not generalizeable to any population, however.)
I am somewhat conflicted about 63 (background checks for purchasing ammo, prohibition of large-capacity magazines). My gut tells me this is a good thing, because gun control is a good thing. However, I have heard evidence that suggests that these kind of half-assed measures are easily worked around and serve no actual prevention of gun-related harm. At the time I went all-in on my gut feeling, instead of doing more research on the topic. At this time, I have not gone back to check sources to find out if this measure is actually helping.
There is much more to be said, but that also requires research. Please comment if you would like to see that done on these or other political topics.
- The original will likely go down as part of a site redesign and holds no value as content, so I’ve created an unlisted paste of it.
- That list is obviously outdated, as Trump easily makes the top 5. And that’s without even counting foreign deaths.
- Another example: Sanctions, which directly lead to somewhere between thousands and millions of deaths, and much more significant suffering.
- History shows that Americans rarely have a 3rd option in presidential elections.
- This article on modern concentration camps primarily focuses on more recent events, but offers a taste of what I am referring to.
- Languages spoken in California.
- ABC News’ article on plastic bag bans. I cannot reliably determine the net effect of California’s prop 67, but it seems to be edging into positivity.