Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Voting in Seattle

Seattle, WA is a pretty awesome city and state to live in. I used to hate election season. Other places I've lived, it seemed like everyone always felt outnumbered and attacked no matter what their political position, and each election cycle was several months of hell. Moving to a progressive State (and turning off the TV in favor of the internet) has done wonders for my blood pressure and peace of mind. As it would happen, this election day I was terribly ill. I had contracted strep throat a few days before, followed quickly by an insane viral complication that felt like some Bond villain was keeping their prize school of man-eating piranha in my mouth. Three trips to the urgent care center down the street just prior to the election had me on a four different medicines and I was instructed to avoid all contact with other humans for two weeks. Luckily, we vote by mail here in Washington state. Instead of standing in some stupid line contracting and spreading god knows what, I was able to vote from my sofa. I could take my time, web-search every candidate and initiative via the iPad, and not worry that my illness (or impatience / forgetfulness / ignorance) was causing me to make some foolish decision. Plus, thanks to our lovely open primary and run-off system, I'd already done my research on these candidates two months ago, so for 80% of the races I could just check my notes from back then. It made for a really laid-back voting experience, no pressure or confusion, and with me being so damn sick I really appreciated that. As to how I voted: mostly Democrat, plus Greens where-ever possible. No big surprise there. We did have some pretty weighty issues on the local ballot initiatives this year, and I think that's definitely the most important part of voting this time around. If you'll indulge me whilst I ride this high horse up onto the soapbox... I'm a bleeding heart liberal and I look like a hippy, but those who truly know me will acknowledge I'm kind of a square. I have maybe 10 alcoholic drinks in an entire year. I have never ever done a recreational drug. Despite that notable degree of stick-in-the-mud-itude, I voted this year to legalize pot, and am really glad it passed. From my outsiders perspective, pot certainly seems no more harmful than booze. I've been threatened and even attacked by drunks before, but never by stoners. You just can't put enough weight on that, even if there are other reasons to be pro-legalization. Washington has no income tax, and I expect the extra money from regulated pot sales are probably going to really help keep our various liberal programs and infrastructure projects well-funded. Raking in the dough, instead of spending it to lock up generally harmless stoners. Legalized pot will hopefully take the wind out of the sails of the cartels, in much the same way that ending prohibition deflated the US mafia. Not that cartel influence is felt that much up here in the Pacific NorthWest, but it is a legitimate concern on the national level. Pot's status as a "gateway drug" is because most people think it's no big deal, and yet you have to break the law to do it, which pretty much trains people to think it's no big deal to break the law. Legalization seems to me like a huge win for sanity, all around. I also got to vote in favor of marriage equality, and am thrilled it passed as well. I'm about to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of my marriage to the most amazing woman I have ever met. Prior to meeting her, I experienced a miserable failed marriage and divorce. Gay people getting married is certainly no more threatening to the institution of marriage than stupid people who don't understand commitment getting married is. Don't take that out of context, there. I'm not saying gay people are stupid, I'm saying as long as idiots such as myself (particularly at the time of my first marriage) are allowed to get married, anyone ought to be allowed. Happiness, peace of mind, legal protection, soul-stripping emotionally vulnerability -- there's nothing about marriage that shouldn't be just as available for any two loving adults to partake in regardless of their genders or orientation. I'm dumbfounded by just how alarmed some of my fellow heterosexuals get over the notion that two guys somewhere might have a ceremony and sign a financial / legal document. If you think some stranger's marriage (or bedroom practices) is a threat to your way of life, you have a outrageously flawed sense of perspective.

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