Thursday, June 5, 2014

California Politics = SNAFU


I don’t hide the fact that I am a rather partisan person when it comes to politics. However, in my life, there are instances when I have broken with party lines and voted for another candidate. Granted, there has to be darn good reason to do so but it has happened and I believe that I made the right choice at the time. There are people in this country that are ardent supporters of one party over another regardless of the actions of the candidates… welcome to California!

Back in March, anti-gun California State Senator Leland Yee (D) was arrested by the FBI on corruption and bribery charges. Unfortunately, it is not surprising these days to hear such charges being leveled on a politician. However, what made this case unique and rather disturbing is the fact that the anti-gun legislator, who has attached his name to nearly every anti-gun piece of legislation since he took office, was also arrested by the FBI on charges of conspiring to illegally import and distribute firearms, allegedly including machine guns and “rocket launchers”. Since that time additional details have surfaced. Specifically, he was arrested for conspiring with the Chinese mafia (Triads) to import and sell full-auto rifles and rocket launchers (I wonder if any of them were “ghost guns”). The full warrant affidavit can be read here.

This week, Leland Yee was back in the news. Mr. Yee, supposedly possessing either the worst memory or biggest balls in history, was running for Secretary of State. This is not a punch line, this is reality. I heard about this some time ago and, like many law abiding gun owners, I was confident that no one would vote for such a criminal. Well, like many times before, I underestimated the stupidity and partisanship of many voters. Leland Yee collected nearly ten percent of the vote in the California primary. This translates to a third place finish with 300,425 Californians who decided that legal firearms are bad but illegal guns are perfectly acceptable.

Results such as this really bring to light that not all the issues in politics can be blamed on the politicians themselves, it all comes down to the voters. This isn’t a new problem, this has been a part of politics since the beginning when politicians realized that they had four primary ways of running a campaign: run an honest race and position yourself as the best person for the job; manipulate the perceptions of the voters and attack your competition; use your celebrity status (entertainment, sports, politics, etc.) to garner popularity votes; or, run for office in a place where your party is guaranteed to win by blind party vote. The first has long since withered away while the other three strategies are what have taken root in this country. This is why it really doesn't matter if you are an adulterer (happy belated 50th birthday to Monica Lewinsky), left someone to die after driving your car off a bridge, you are an arms trafficker, or your biggest accomplishment is finishing second on American Idol... you still have a chance to be elected.

A blind vote is supporting the Political SNAFU that we all despise. While I don’t think this is ever going to go away, we should at least do all we can to stunt it’s growth by educating ourselves as to the candidates that are running, knowing who is currently representing us, and giving a crap about the decisions that these people are making in office. While we may all have opinions as to whether their actions are good, bad, right, or wrong, we should take those policies, actions, and charges into account before we pull that lever or hit that button. I am not against voting along party lines so long as you know who you are voting for.