Political Fix (1 December, 2016)

Equal Representation of The People

The summer heat, Tule fog, and flat Valley floor separates Tulare and Kings Counties from the rest of the California, along with how the region votes. Whatever their differences, after our being fairly ignored by the Bay Area, Los Angeles and the liberal coastal areas, these two Central Valley counties finally had an election go its way.

While the rest of the state forced Tulare and Kings Counties to legalize marijuana, we forced the rest of California to swallow Donald Trump as president.

I think that is a good combination: elect Mr. Trump then get stoned.

Most rural counties in California have felt like the ugly stepmother because they have no heft in Sacramento and often lose statewide and national elections. The northern and southern urban areas have roughly 60 assembly seats to represent their needs versus only 20 for the poorer rural counties. As a result, the Central Valley never seems to get the same consideration when introducing legislation or receiving state funding.

To add insult to injury Tulare and Kings Counties have to breathe San Francisco and Los Angeles’ bad air that gets trapped between the two mountain ranges. Then the California Air Resource Board fines us for their pollution.

Would this be what’s called a rigged system? Now that Tulare and Kings County have their man in the White House, “rigged” doesn’t sound so negative.

California’s electoral map looks similar to the country as a whole with red counties in the rural interior and the blue counties along the coast. And just like Tulare and Kings Counties do not want Los Angeles and San Francisco to tell us how to live, nor do the more sparsely populated states in the interior want to be told how to live by New York and California. And that’s where the Electoral College steps in.

Questions have been asked if we should do away with the Electoral College. Hilary Clinton won the popular vote by more than two million but lost the election because Mr. Trump won more Electoral votes. On closer analysis, that two million was not evenly spread out over the country but concentrated on the East and West Coasts. The numerous interior states overwhelmingly wanted Mr. Trump as president.

What pundits call the “fly-by states” would have lost this election without the Electoral College. The interior states do not feel like the nation’s liberal and upscale coastal strongholds represent their Middle American values or understood how they have suffered in our new economy.

On the other hand, the Electoral College makes one vote in Wyoming worth more than three in California. That hasn’t worked out well for the Democrats, who have won the popular vote in the last four of five elections but only held the presidency under President Obama.

Another parallel between California and national politics is the lopsided power each political party has depending where you live. In Washington DC, Republicans control the House, Senate and White house. In California, which would be the sixth largest economy in the world if independent, Democrats control the Assembly, Senate and Governor’s Mansion by a supermajority.

Yet there is no reason to fret about the permanency of either. Republican consultant Ray McNally was quoted as saying about the Democrats in Sacramento: “One of the most important lessons I’ve learned after all these years,” he says, “is that the party out of power can always count on the party in power to put them back in power. The Democrats will overreach. Power really does corrupt.”

And Finally…..

My youngest daughter has a funny anecdote from her years attending Sequoia Union Elementary School in Lemon Cove. Her fifth grade teacher had several “Nobama” stickers on her filing cabinet and the same bumper stickers on her car. She was one of the best teachers at the school so I and the only other Democrat mom in her class never said anything. It wasn’t really unusual in such a conservative area.

The day after President Obama announced that Seal Team 6 had assassinated Osama Bin Laden, a boy with whom Mercedes had gone to school since preschool asked “Why did Obama kill his brother?”

Some of the kids thought that was hilarious. Others kids, and adults included, wondered why Mr. Bin Laden’s brother could be the president of the United States.

Looking back on this story I can see how Lemon Cove is a microcosm of Mr. Trump’s voting base.

“I love the poorly educated!” declared Mr. Trump after his victory during the primary in the Nevada. Thus eliciting snickers from the national media and political pundits implying they had more raw intelligence than someone with only a high school degree.

They obviously have never lived in rural America. There is an information gap in Lemon Cove because there is no residential high speed internet and cable TV is very expensive. Ignorance is curable, but idiots come in all income and education levels.

Mr. Trump’s voter base may be the uneducated but they are not stupid.

When filling out the paperwork for a large grant for Sequoia Union’s after school program, the director had to analyze the education, crime and income level of the people who lived in the school district. She discovered that there were just as many high school drop outs living in the district as residents holding masters degrees.

It wasn’t always clear who was who.

When I ran school fundraisers or volunteered with other parents we all worked hard. I did wonder how someone my age was already a grandmother yet also had a first grader. But even though some moms had their first children at age 16, that wasn’t always a definite indicator of being a high school dropout. Several moms got their GED and waited until all their kids were in school to get their college degree, with one mom even getting her masters at age 50.

What unites this area in the foothills is not someone’s college degree or political affiliation but a sort of rugged individualism. Living in the foothills means target shooting, coyotes, air soft wars, riding dirt bikes and horses, and teaching your own teenagers to drive.

At our home in Lemon Cove we had three neighbors scattered about a quarter mile away. On Christmas Eve Mercedes and I would walk to each neighbor’s house with a tin full of homemade holiday cookies and visit for about an hour. Throughout the years we picked out kittens from one neighbor, and another lady who lived alone gave us her daughter’s information in case of an emergency. The third neighbor would always have fudge waiting for us when we delivered our cookies.

Besides Christmas Eve and bumping into each other at the post office, we barely knew each other. Yet we were good friends, and like the parents at the school, they were people I could count on. It’s these rural voters that the mainstream media disregards, to the point that the pundits are still shocked by the results of the election.

Who is stupid now?

Mercedes is a senior at Exeter Union High School and the Lemon Cove boy with whom she grew up who made the crack about President Obama is now a liberal Democrat.

Just don’t tell his mother.

One thought on “Political Fix (1 December, 2016)

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  1. One observation on the source of Tulare County air pollution:

    “The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District reports: Air pollution transported from the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento areas account for approximately 27% of the total emissions in the Northern portion of the District (San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Merced Counties). In the Central region (Fresno, Madera and Kings Counties), the percentage drops to 11%, and in the south valley (the Valley portion of Kern and Tulare Counties), transported air pollution accounts for only 7% of the total problem.”

    “While some of our pollution is blown in from other areas, most of our air pollution is home grown and it is our responsibility to clean it up.”

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