the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

California Politics


A woman with a display table was standing outside of Ralph’s Supermarket today, asking for signatures.  As Super Tuesday approaches, the wheels start turning for the next election’s California propositions.  Every year, there are a whole group of new propositions on the California ballot.  They are always as confusing as possible, and half of them get stuck in costly court battles.  The big proposition for this month has something to do with Indian Casinos and their right to add more slot machines to feed their tribes, or something like that, or at least giving the tribes better odds in blackjack.  Most of these propositions have to do with money and taxes, or where the money should go.  I have a feeling the money never goes anywhere other than into the advertising campaigns of new propositions.

As I passed the political display table outside of the supermarket, I was shocked to read the poster posted in front of it.  “Let’s Keep Marriage Between a Man and a Woman.”  Redondo Beach may not be West Hollywood, but it is still a “liberal” area.  There were at least four people adding their signatures to put this issue on the ballot.  I was dismayed and angry.  Redondo Beach?

I’m not extremely political.  Sophia is Republican.  I respect some of the Republican views on international relations, even taxes.   I have a “conservative” side to myself.  However, religious-tinged issues such as gay marriage, right to life, and putting “God” back into our culture JUST DRIVE me nuts!   Is this what we really want to spend all our time talking about?  It’s as if a married couple is living in a home where the toilet is flooding the entire house and their car is on fire, and they are arguing over who should do the dishes tonight?  

I think it is cool if gays want to get married or take up juggling.   What’s the big deal?

Anyway, that’s as political as I get, for now.

I went into the store and bought some tomatoes, Cheerios, turkey slices, tomato sauce, and green tea.  I paid for my items, then left through the “other” front door, hoping to avoid the woman with the political display and getting upset again.   But it didn’t work.  The minute she saw me, she ran over to me with her clipboard, asking me to sign it. 

“Would you like to… blah blah… about renewable energy?”

“Huh?” I wondered.

I looked over to her display.  Her poster had two sides.  One side said “Keep Marriage Between a Man and a Woman.”  The flip side contained something about renewable energy.  Everyone that I saw signing their names was adding their name to the renewable energy clipboard, and I just didn’t realize it.

Rather than being relieved, I just felt annoyed at the political system.  I didn’t add my name for this proposition either.  Sophia had once told me how it works.  This woman is paid to get signatures.  So, she was working on behalf of “Keep Marriage Between  Man and a Woman” AND “renewable energy.”  I’m sure she would be handing out Al-Queda propaganda videos if they paid her too.  It’s as if all the issues are interchangeable.  Just get them on the ballot, and it helps someone… someone who isn’t the California voter.

Now, that’s what modern American politics is all about.  

OK, now I’m off to watch the Democratic debate.  Snore.   Then, Lost.


  1. rawdawgbuffalo

    Barak’s wife won the debate should have seen her on cspan 2nite. He has a Coretta.

  2. gorillabuns

    I don’t sign petitions. I worry about what they do with the signatures and if someone is going to knock on my door in the middle of the night to take me away to a special island.

    Don’t knock my paranoia.

  3. Donna

    I’m so tired of the propositions and what I think are deceptive means of getting the signatures. I don’t sign any petitions any longer, even if I THINK I might agree with the cause.

  4. V-Grrrl

    Europeans don’t do petitions, they do protest marches.

    They can organize a protest march in a matter of hours and fill the streets with people.

    Of course, sometimes it doesn’t make sense, like why did an all-Korean organization have a march in Belgium protesting the American war in Iraq? I guess they just had the urge to burn Bush in effigy…

    My favorite protest? The one I witnessed in Paris when the restaurant owners/workers were pissed off about some legislative action.

    They took to the streets throwing plates! It was a big public tantrum and so much better than an American riot which are just excuses to break into stores and steal stuff.

  5. Kathy

    I don’t sign petitions either. I’ve found the best way to avoid the petitioners is by not making eye contact. Once they lock eyes, they’ve got you.

  6. august

    Thanks for reminding me again why I’m so glad I live on the other side of the country 😐

  7. Alice

    sigh. as if i’m not disillusioned enough about politics today. i hate everything. can you imagine how much good could be done with all the money that is raised for political campaigns? BILLIONS of dollars, being spent on attack ads. ew.

  8. Finn

    Well ain’t that a kick in the head; I was actually naive about something!

    You know, I would have preferred to stay that way…

  9. Jennifer

    OH MY GOSH!! Try living in the Deep South! Not only do we have to keep marriage between a man and a woman, we have to be able to display the Ten Commandments in every public restroom so we can refer to them when we sneak in there to hold our school prayer meetings!!! I can’t believe the Founding Fathers haven’t pulled themselves out of the grave to protest the mess we’ve made out of their vision!!!

  10. Neil

    Thomas Jefferson had strong deist beliefs in his version of religion and would find most of what is said in his name by today’s religious right as total rubbish.

  11. Lara

    See, I read that bit about her sign having different issues on each side, and I immediately suspected she was suckering people into signing so that they would think they were supporting the renewable energy cause when really they were saying they’re against gay marriage.

    Personally, I don’t care if gay people wed or not – but they have NO BUSINESS juggling. It’s just not safe.

  12. Shelli

    It’s really ridiculous when you look at it that way. It’s probably the same for the people calling you to tell you to vote this way or that, too.

  13. Stacy

    I’m a California ex-pat who is always proselytizing against the proposition system……I’ll be having my government students read your post as yet another piece n the case against “direct democracy.”

  14. mommy zombie

    I, once, a million years ago had that woman’s job. Its made me distrust propositions. That said, a few years ago, here was a fantastically ridiculous proposition on the SF ballot that had to do with making the wealthiest top 5% of residents pay for public mental health services. It was so insanely wacky, and I am sure unconstitutional or illegal somehow, that it renewed my faith in all things propositioned.

    Though seriously, the whole proposition thing ends up being so much about access to money, marketing and media its hugely problematic.

    Also, “Hi” I am a loyal lurker and decided to join in the fun!!! Love your writing and observations- at least most of the time *smile*

  15. Danny

    Are you saying that it was the SAME woman who was trolling for signatures for an anti-gay initiative AND one about renewable energy resources? Was she evaluating people as they walked out of the store as to which one she should bring up to them? What an idiot, I’m glad you didn’t sign anything.

  16. Neil

    Danny — Did you know that these people get paid? That was a big disappointment. I was always feeling guilty about how dedicated these people were to their cause — whatever cause — to stand outside a supermarket and ask for signatures!

  17. Lisa

    It was probably one of those sneaky “if you sign this, you’re really agreeing to the other thing too” sorts of deals. Those petitioners suck! Get a real job!!

  18. Los Angelista

    When I first moved to Cali, I was so confused by the proposition thing. That’s not how we do things back home in Chicago where your legs just get broken in under the table deals.

    After ten years, I’m still confused. So I just vote “no” to 95% of them.

  19. Neil

    Los Angelelista — for instance, the controversial Indian casino proposition — for the life of me, I have no idea which side is telling me the truth or will be more helpful for society?

  20. Los Angelista

    I figure we have plenty of casinos right now plus the lottery and our state budget is still in the crapper. So I can’t imagine we’d be any better off with even more casinos. But some fat cats will probably be very happy with more casinos. I heard on the radio today that the tribes have spent $100 million on ads promoting it. Something in the milk ain’t clean with that one.

  21. Dagny

    I only sign the petitions if the guy is really cute…

  22. Marge

    marriage/juggling…same thing. Either way a sport one should not take up without considerable training and a good helmet.

    When did politics become more about money than social issues? Why is our society so accessible via the various ad medias? Funny how you were just talking about whether or not to take up ads in your blog.

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