Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Future shlock

Today is Election Day in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Yup, we're one of the two states -- not, you will note, that we call ourselves a state -- with regularly scheduled statewide elections this year. (New Jersey is the second.) In theory that's so state elections go unaffected by national political tides. The Law of Unintended Consequences remaining in force, it really means the national political parties focus on these two states, making the electoral process here (a) a referendum on the national balance of political power and (b) a dry run for methods to be tried in the following year's  Congressional elections. And so, national money floods into -- and distorts -- Virginia state races.

The national/state overlap is always bad in Virginia, because we're just across the Potomac from DC. There's not even travel inconvenience to discourage national politicians from meddling. The problem is made worse this cycle by our outgoing governor happening also to be the party chairman for a national party.

Virginia is also quirky in barring its governors from consecutive terms. So: we can never vote the rascal out (only vote against him when, all but inevitably, he runs for the US Senate). And IIRC, for the sixth consecutive time a former attorney general is running for governor, so there's no incumbent to vote from that office, either.

Experience? We don't need no stinkin' experience.

The one statewide race with an incumbent is lieutenant governor, a part-time job. And here, too, Virginia is quirky: we vote separately for governor and lieutenant governor. The two office holders can be (as they are at the moment) from different parties. Consider the opportunities for mischief when the governor is out of the state or briefly ill.

The state legislature (like the federal House of Representatives) is hopelessly gerrymandered, so my state delegate is running effectively unopposed (there is an independent, but no one from the opposition party, in the race). At the county and local level, all candidates for office for whom I'll "vote" are unopposed.

How is this about science or SF? It isn't, beyond today feeling a bit like alternate history and a soviet election. Maybe it's just (reference the name of this blog) about nonsense.

But today's nonsense was the product, over many years, of the politicians. And as Virginia's governance (and, hence, our traffic -- transportation funding is a perennial, never-resolved issue) has been mired in gridlock for years, it's very serious nonsense.

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