Election Night in California looks something like this: the polls close at 8 p.m., the presidential race is called as soon as the local news personalities dispense with the pleasantries, Democrats party into the night while Republicans turn in early.
In an election year defined by breaks from tradition, the ballot before California voters next month fits right in. Beyond the historic and highly unusual presidential race, Californians will make their first general election choice between two Democrats for U.S. Senate. And among a fleet of propositions, the voters will be asked to legalize recreational marijuana and about a pair of initiatives that together give Californians the choice to repeal, reform, or keep as is the state’s death penalty.
Public policy at its very core is functionally using government action (or inaction) to alter how people behave, in some form or another. This doesn’t necessarily means brute government force, i.e. bans, mandates, or government’s monopoly over violence, as using market mechanisms also strive to alter behavior. Behavioral changes can be as simple as stopping at red lights to ensure orderly vehicle movement or as complex as altering the incentives to alleviate the symptoms or causes for poverty.
Do you remember when Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi said about the Affordable Care Act, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it…”? She was mocked for that statement, and rightly so. Unfortunately, that type of legislating in the dark has too often been the norm in California.
It’s a presidential election little different from others in the California of the past quarter of a century. We don’t know the exact numbers for where Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will end up, but here’s an educated guess: Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, will wind up near or north of 60% of the nation-state’s vote. It’s where Obama twice finished in his two presidential runs – against stronger Republican opposition.