Building up to Election Day is always full of fervor. There is so much hope riding on the idealism piled on voters during campaign season, it’s hard to see the forest for the trees. But, now, with the majority of the votes having been counted, what do we get?
On the national level, we saw a dramatic shift, the Democrats losing control of the Senate. In the 2010 midterm elections, they lost control of the House. With the Party of No now in the majority in Congress, we won’t be surprised if nothing gets done in the next two years. In 2016, will the Democrats also lose the presidency? It’s a tough call to make at this point, but it seems inevitable the pendulum will continue to swing that way as it is a familiar pattern in the U.S. We just hope it doesn’t end up in two wars and a nation on its knees financially as it did when George W. Bush left office, having been elected after two-term president Bill Clinton, a prime example of this routine pendulum swing. Voters are in a cyclical pattern of giving up on their parties, then renewing their faith in them once the alternative party apparently fails. If we don’t learn from our mistakes, we are doomed to repeat them. And so it goes with politics.
For local and state elections, the usual suspects, the democrats, kept their seats, from Gov. Jerry Brown to Congresswoman Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, and Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Carpinteria, all of them fared well, as expected. It was a tight race for Julia Brownley, D-Westlake Village, and Jeff Gorell, R-Camarillo, but as of Wednesday morning, Brownley was in the lead. What does any of this mean? Nothing, really. It means the state will keep going in the direction it has been going. And in D.C., regardless if Gorell or Brownley wins that seat, it’s still going to mean continued gridlock on nationwide issues with the president and Congress at odds. Oxnard Mayor Tim Flynn will continue in his seat for another two years. We hope that some of his cost-saving decisions actually pay off. Plus, we hope he brings some of those higher-paying jobs to the city as he promised in 2012.
For statewide and local measures, Californians want to save for a rainy day, whether they are talking about water or money. (Propositions 1 and 2 passed.) People are terrified of any more changes to their health care so the effort to strike down excessive increases in health insurance hikes was shot down, plus increasing the amount of money patients can get due to damages resulting from malpractice was also not approved. But Prop 47 passed, meaning for certain crimes, less jail time or perhaps no time at all for thefts less than $950 and for drug related charges. Also, Ventura City Council and Ventura Unified School District board elections will now join everyone else on even year election cycles. Santa Paula residents want better streets and services with the passage of Measure F, the 1 percent sales increase. Much to the relief of port operators, Port Hueneme’s Measure M, which would have changed the business tax code, failed.
Upon reflection, for the over $4 billion spent on campaigns and initiatives, what exactly did we get? Not much. With all the spending that goes on, one would think we would see some major uproar. We can’t help but wonder, is all this money being well spent? Here’s an idea, if voters really want to see their best interests addressed and politicians want to put their best foot forward in doing so, perhaps registering voters and following up to make sure they vote is where the money should really go.
Nationally, voter turnout has hovered around 40 percent of registered voters for midterm elections. We expect it to be just a tad lower as that is where the trend is headed though definite statistics aren’t out yet. In California, it’s hovering around 30 percent. In Ventura County, we saw 35 percent turnout. But there is a huge disparity. In Oxnard, for instance, over 75,000 people are registered to vote. Flynn won with just over 11,000 votes. That means only 15 percent of registered voters elected him into office. But that goes with other cities and measures as well, many registered, few voting. If you are dissatisfied and don’t vote, then don’t complain when you get what you didn’t vote for.