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November 5, 2018

Head Heart Hustle Herald: November Election Edition

Head Heart Hustle Herald

November Election Edition

Sunday, November 4

Dear friends and supporters,

I miss you!

I am writing to you now in the last days before the November election to talk through the ballot we have the task of filling out in just a few days. I am voting absentee, and I must say that this is the most difficult ballot I have ever had to fill out, because of the sheer length of it. Remember, you can’t vote straight ticket and even if you could, there are a number of non-partisan positions up for grabs.

I plan to be predictably long-winded, but if you want to cut right to the chase, please remember to vote, to research your ballot and to research your candidates. Please vote for Gretchen Whitmer, Rashida Tlaib, Dana Nessel, Proposals 2 and 3, and other amazing progressive people and proposals on your ballot. Here are some resources that should help!

VOTER RESOURCES & GUIDES

Secretary of State: find your ballot

Free Press Voter Guide

League of Women VOter Non-Partisan Voter Guide

Citizen Detroit

Inform Detroit

A Personal Note

Life goes on after an election, win or lose, but there is something quite strange about the space between a primary and a general election. At first, the transition was shocking and stark, like gasping air after jumping in cold water- I had some much time to spend on everything but what I had been spending it on! After the initial shock, my mind mulled over various absurd ambitions including a write-in campaign, but I found that I simply didn’t have the willingness to try even if I would have a chance (which would be very remote). Before long at all, I was immersed in my life of work and community, with truly beautiful and inspiring successes in preventing over 500 foreclosed homes from going up to auction. Time to move on. And yet, here we are, just a few days shy of the actual election, and I must begrudgingly admit that I care very much about what is at stake, and I am still compelled to lend my voice and my time to ensuring an outcome with the wellbeing of my community in mind.

So, I am writing to you, to talk it out.

THE PROPOSALS

Before I talk about candidates, I want to talk about the Proposals. I came of voting age in a time when the statewide ballot proposals asked me to define civil marriage as between a man and a woman to explicitly prohibit same-sex marriage, so I find that our truly progressive proposals are a remarkable advancement within my adult life. Thank god for bright spots.

I have already voted (absentee) and I said “yes” to each of the Proposals, though I have some misgivings about each.  Let’s run through them:

Proposal 1: 

Paraphrase: Decriminalilze the consumption and small-scale production of marijuana, even for recreational use.

Tweet-size: Treat pot like booze.

Discussion: I voted “yes” because I don’t believe that consumption of marijuana should be criminalized and that a criminal justice system that has done so has had disproportionately negative consequences for minor infractions. I further believe these consequences have been born disproportionately by low-income communities and communities of color. I do not see marijuana as a harmless joke, I believe the social costs will be real, just as they are real for alcohol, gambling, and other behaviors we deem “vices.” I have real fear for what those costs will look like and a sad realization that they will likely continue to be borne by those who can least afford to pay them. I am afraid of corporatization and the dulling of minds, but I would still rather make pot legal and rip life-threatening addictive prescription opioids off the shelves of pharmacies and off the profit margin of pharmaceuticals than retain the current system.

Proposal 2:

Paraphrase: Reduce the ability of the party in power to dilute the vote of the opposing party by strategically drawing district lines that favor themselves.

Tweet size: Squash the salamander

Discussion: So, Michigan is one of the most gerrymandered states, meaning that the way our districts are drawn has a great distorting from the number of votes cast to the outcome of the election. A great example is in the 2014 state senate race, 49.2% of the votes were for Democratic candidates and 50.7% of the votes for Republican candidates, the results were 11 Democratic Senators and 27 Republican senators (or 29% and 71%, respectively).  THIS IS INSANITY! Just think of how much absurd effort I put into winning my race for state representative, which is less influential than the Senate, and how relatively little we get for it. Such is the power of gerrymandering- to both dilute the power of a vote and to delude voters into thinking their vote matters. Proposal 2 will end partisan gerrymandering by creating a system where an independent commission will draw voter lines.

Overall, I am over the moon for this. On the other hand, as a serious thinker and a wearisome devil’s advocate, I will admit that I am concerned that the process of drawing district lines is extremely complex, even absent partisan bias, and that it may be quite difficult for laymen to carry out. I’m also worried about the effect that more competitive races will have on campaign finance, but that’s a reason to address campaign finance, not reduce competitive races. In the end, I would rather earnest good-effort over naked self-serving.

IF YOU DO NOTHING ELSE IN THIS ELECTION, VOTE YES FOR PROPOSAL 2.

Proposal 3:

Paraphase: Reduce barriers to early voting and last-minute voting and make voting itself easier

Tweet size: Make it more easy for more people to vote

Discussion: If Prop one is the weed brownie and Prop 2 is the perfectly-sliced birthday cake, Prop 3 is a bag of party favors. There are a few treats in there and they’re all pretty good but I like some more than others. Love: no-reason absentee voting. The first time I voted absentee, I was living in South Africa, I’m voting absentee again for this election because I’ll be working the polls and I am really grateful for the time I have to really really research my ballot (you lucky dogs). Prop 3 allows voters to register for absentee voting for no better reason than “cuz I wanna.”Prop 3 also allows for same-day voter registration for the Paris Hilton’s, political hibernators and recent movers among us. Finally, it reinstates straight-ticket voting (so you can vote for all partisan races with a single bubble). I hold some reservations about straight-ticket voting, because I think it further weakens the potential competitiveness of third-party candidates, make primaries more confusing, reduces knowledge of who our elected officials are, and makes it easier for completely unqualified candidates to get elected on the sole basis of party affiliation. On the other hand, people love it and maybe it should be legal even if I have misgivings. Regardless, I intend to vote Yes for the whole bag of tricks.

THE PARTISAN RACES

“I gotta tell ya, we gotta elect the damn democrats.

If there is any latent “I wish I would’ve done more” regret simmering in you after the last presidential election (which, of course, there is), then I strongly request that you reach out to each and every person who you encounter and ask them if they’re voting, when, and where, are they sure they’re registered, what do they need to know/do to make sure they’re ready when they get there? PRINT your ballot in advance so you and others don’t get discouraged by long lines at the polls as people Google and Wikipedia and YouTube their way to a confident vote. Go to the Secretary of State website, the League of Women Voter’s Independent Voter guide, and others (see top of email).

I am feeling a mix of confidence, fear, and Post-Election Stress Disorder brought on by the eerie resemblance of Scheutte vs. Whitmer to Trump vs. Clinton. Please let mini-Trump not become our next Governor. Schuette is the same guy who fought same-sex marriage because it “can’t lead to pregnancy,” and who later used state power to fight against same-sex couples from legally adopting children. He failed to intervene when Flint’s children were poisoned while under the state’s control, and more recently, has fought against even fellow Republicans who wanted to increase opportunities for prisoners to be considered from release if they completed minimum sentences

The races I’m really excited about are that of Rashida Tlaib to the 13thCongressional District (vote for Rashida, please!), Brenda Lawrence for the 14th Congressional District, Dana Nessel for Attorney General. These are amazing candidates who all happen to be amazing women.

If you have opinions on who to vote for in any other positions, or for the races in your own districts, feel free to use my campaign Facebook Page to post your preferences and teach others, I would be honored!

I haven’t yet filled in my ballot for one race- State Representative- 4th District. That one is going to be tough.

 

Humbly yours,

Michele Oberholtzer

November 5, 2018

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