Tuesday June 5, 2012 was election day in California. The last time there was a California Presidential Primary, President Obama and Hilary Clinton competed for the Democrat nomination. Clinton won California. McCain defeated Romney. In 2008, California held its primary on February 5.
In November 2008, Obama won California and the presidency. The same day that Americans elected the first African-American President, Californians passed Proposition 8 banning same sex marriage. Many Californians who voted for Obama mourned the initiative’s passing.
On Tuesday, the 9th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals declined to hear the most recent appeal, overturning Prop 8. The United States Supreme Court is the last remaining court to hear a challenge. Prop 8 forced some people into democracy. The 2008 Presidential race also excited voters. In our neighborhood, neighbors stood on street corners arguing for both sides of Prop 8. People placed signs in their windows and on their lawn. It was more difficult to remain politically isolated.
Democracy can be messy, but must it be messy? Do we confuse the mess for progress?
On November 1, 2009, I took my daughter to a protest outside the California State Supreme Court. She was not impressed. I wanted her to witness history. I wanted her to learn how Americans practice freedom, but instead she watched grown ups acting childish. People yelled at each other. Nobody listened. What are we teaching our children? We might believe we are teaching peace and freedom, but I suspect that our children are learning something different.
My daughter has also seen a friendlier version of democracy. Our local city council member, Libby Schaaf, campaigned on the same busy street corner in 2010. We met Libby through our neighbor Dianne. (Dianne is also holding a Libby for City Council street sign in the slideshow.) Emily has seen Libby many times and each time Libby is kind.
Democracy can be messy and kind.