We had our pre-election political discussion at Courthouse News HQ yesterday.
While the employees are on the youthful side of the age range and on the diverse side of the racial and cultural mix, they are not that enthusiastic about Barack Obama.
Which surprised me.
"I wish it was Biden instead of Obama," said one Asian woman.
"I would have voted for McCain, except for Palin," said another Asian woman.
The Latinos are basically in Obama's camp. The whites even more so.
But most of the discussion surrounded the statewide ballot measures, because folks here have plenty of info on the presidential candidates. And since our congressman, Adam Schiff, makes an occasional habit of dropping in to say hello, he sweeps that contest.
The discussion was, to me, surprisingly free of polemics. I expect politics to be like religion in the U.S., a matter of faith.
And the "cultural" issues on the ballot, against gay marriage and against abortion (the parent notification requirement is simply another hurdle), would suggest the same.
But no, there was a good freewheeling discussion with questions, opinions and references to voter information pamphlets, sample ballots and checklists of the organizations for and against the measures.
What I called the "freedom for chickens" measure, Proposition 2 which requires some room to move for animals, excited passion among some of the employees, who argued in essence that you are what you eat, and badly raised farm animals will ultimately affect your health.
The other measure that excited a surprising flow of strong opinion was Proposition 8, banning gay marriage. One Latina raged against the groups on corners of inland ex-urb Rancho Cucamonga carrying signs in favor of the proposition.
While here in Pasadena, I counted Obama and McCain lawn signs running at roughly 8 to 2 for Obama with about half the Obama signs accompanied by No on 8 signs.
Southern California seems like a political crazy quilt, with Pasadena bluer than blue and Rancho roughly 30 miles away redder than Kansas.
Although I will certainly vote against Proposition 8, I was the lone voice to offer a token argument in favor, saying I wasn't sure if the kids should be taught that at the end of the tale, the prince prances off with the other prince.
But one young mother said she taught exactly that lesson to her young daughter, that same-sex marriage was normal.
One of our employees is training to be a policewoman and she has seen the cooped-up conditions of prisoners who have committed non-violent crimes, and the consensus of our discussion was largely in favor of Proposition 5 that would allow for greater treatment options for non-violent offenders.
Anything that involved spending public money drew opposition, including the bullet train, spending for prisons, for children's hospitals and even bonds for veterans. I argued in favor of the bullet train, saying I had ridden the high-speed trains in Europe and it was great.
The discussion then moved to a local measure that would support metro construction, prompting a quick critique of the various metro lines of Los Angeles, with the Gold Line from Pasadena to downtown identified as a nice, comfortable ride.
While the south-rolling Blue and Hollywood-bound Red lines are "all tagged up" with grafitti and carry a worrisome load of humanity.
Another local measure for low-income housing prompted the question, "Is this about the projects?" Which started a side eddy of discussion on how screwed up they were.
The statewide proposition to reform the redistricting process largely got a "no," as a good government measure that was unlikely to change the political nature of the line-drawing process.
Without further ado, the Courthouse News Service endorsements for the national election of 2008 are:
For President: Barack Obama
For Congress: Adam Schiff
Prop 1A on trains: Yes
Prop 2 on farm animals: Yes
Prop 3 on hospitals: No
Prop 4 on abortion: No
Prop 5 on rehabilitation: Yes
Prop 6 on prisons: No
Prop 7 on energy: No
Prop 8 on gay marriage: No
Prop 9 on victim's rights: No
Prop 10 on alternative fuel: No
Prop 11 on redistricting: No
Prop 12 on veterans' loans: Yes
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