First, know that you must read to the end of this column to find out how to vote on the propositions in this election.
I’m certain that you’ve come to Lil’ S.H.R.E.D. to know how to vote because I am, after all, a newspaper opinion writer, and we’re the ones who tell people how to vote.
It’s always been that way, and our status as vote-swayers makes plenty of sense, because everybody knows that the brightest, most influential, and wisest people gravitate toward low-paying careers in dying media.
It’s hard to read such columns without wondering who could possibly care what their local paper thinks. The entire process seems like a sort of vestigial limb uncomfortably and uselessly sticking out from a forehead, a carryover from the days when newspapers were founded and paid for by political parties. William Randolph Hearst started a war.
Do endorsements matter? According to the Pew Research Center, 14 percent of Americans said their local paper’s endorsement of a candidate would make them more likely to vote for a candidate, and 14 percent said the paper’s endorsement would make them less likely to vote for a candidate.
Sounds like a wash to me—and if it’s even close to being true, what’s the point? Most newspaper boards lean one way or another, so the outcome is preordained except in the rarest of cases.
It’s an odd, odd thing, because newspapers go around saying how objective they are, and then they issue endorsements that are worded as if the entire newspaper supports one candidate. It’s called an “institutional opinion,” but in fact, it’s just a handful of people calling themselves “the editorial board” who make the endorsements, and the publisher often has the real say. Newer mediums don’t bother with this sort of tripe. You don’t see me stumping for Lois Capps or Matt Kokkonen.
Besides, I mean, who wants advice from a faceless, nameless—ah, scratch that line of thought.
And that means it’s time to deploy the convenience of an ellipsis to get to the next point ;
Do you think it would be too much bother to ask people to actually write their letters themselves?
New Times has received hundreds of political letters, but if you look hard enough, you can find that many of them are shockingly similar. Places such as MoveOn.org and their conservative counterparts have these “letter generators” that can be used to “write” letters without actually having to do anything other than select from a handful of options. Push 1 for a form letter about military spending, then turn the dial to the level of desired outrage. Sign, send, and repeat.
I’ve seen some of these letters printed in local papers, and I’m sure some have made it into our own rag, but it seems flat-out unethical. If putting your name on someone else’s words is plagiarism, so is automatic letter sending. And don’t come back to me telling me that corporate CEOs have other people write their speeches. When you’re in the ethics battle, they’re not the guys wearing the white hats.
Right after Sarah Palin was selected, tons of automatic anti-Palin letters showed up. And these days, it’s all about Proposition 8, the movement to ban gay marriage.
Lately, it’s all evolved into complaints of people stealing Yes-on-Proposition 8 yard signs. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I stole your yard signs. I did it for your own good. I thought they made you look gay. And I know you don’t want that. While I’m at it, give me that shirt.
So here’s my quick romp through the propositions and pompositions of this election.
Here’s how to vote, Shredder style:
Prop. 1: Are you kidding? You’d be voting for a train that doesn’t stop here.
Prop. 2: Chickens would get bigger cages. Nuggets would probably still taste the same. Whatever.
Prop. 3: Money for children’s hospitals: Awwww.
Prop. 4: Two days’ notice and parent notification for a minor getting an abortion: The Republicans were in charge for years and never took on Roe v. Wade. Nut up or shut up.
Prop. 5: No jail time for potheads. Yeah, baby.
Prop. 6: More jail time for potheads. Bummer, baby.
Prop. 7: Clean power. Sounds good, but probably serves somebody’s pockets.
Prop. 8: Gay marriage. Don’t be a hater.
Prop. 9: Something about crime victims. Free choice.
Prop. 10: More money for T. Boone Pickens, the oil tycoon who wants to be a wind tycoon.
Prop. 11: Have an “independent” commission draw political boundaries. Sure.
Prop. 12: Low-interest mortgages for Vets. Hard to say no.
Hope that helps. But really people, if you find you’re looking to somebody like Shredder for suggestions on how to vote, maybe you’d best just vote against all of these.