I am amazed sometimes by the duality of our nature, in ourselves and in our institutions.
This evening, after waking up to a stock market party with a clear Obama hangover, I catch the evening's Investor's Business Daily and read about California's measures.
California is universally known to the rest of the nation as the archetypal liberal state. After all, it's home to Hollywood and San Francisco. And while it's true that they fulfilled their role in renewing their liberal voice to the nation in yesterday's voting, internally it's a different voice.
Voters had previously voted in legislation which clarified and asserted the definition of marriage, as being between a man and a woman. It was a big issue at the time, and achieved significant popular support at the polls, and general detraction in the press.
Rebuffed by the apparent will of their fellow Californians, those affected by the statute mounted challenge, and ultimately the State's supreme court rule the new law contrary to the State's constitution, and struck it down. Rebuffing the rebuffers.
Last night, Californians dug in their heels and took their will a step further, voting passage of Proposition 8 to amend the California constitution such that the effect of that previously passed, then struck, statute can be finally the law of their land.
This was a rather conservative move, and so the development of this story from a state with outspoken liberal representation nationally, and a sure win for the New New Deal Obamanians. And they kept it up too, striking down two rather liberal alternative energy proposals.
Contrast this to my home state, North Dakota. Recognized as a state filled with common sense conservative thinking self-reliant rural stalwarts. You want steady hands on so many tillers? We're your people!
We in North Dakota generally send-up Republican presidents and tend to favor conservative principles in our internal government as well. We do favor Democrats for national representation, but more the blue-dog type. We're mostly farmers, and we're acting in our own self-interest to bring home the farming pork. Dems are usually good at this.
In a second major surprise to me, my fellow North Dakotans acted largely liberally at the polls. We did send up our electoral votes for McCain, and Gov. Hoeven and his Republican administrators received large reapproval to go back to work. But in four ballot measures which affect our internal politics, in contrast to liberal California, conservative North Dakota took a liberal tack.
We had a measure to deal with future oil-industry tax revenue in a fiscally responsible way, setting it aside in trust and trying to only spend the interest on that trust, in the knowledge that while the state's blessed with oil, as a nation we won't use it forever: defeated.
A measure to rebalance our tax revenue (which has been generating steady real surplusses of cash) and lower our personal and corporate income taxes: defeated (what sane conservative vetos a tax cut? Not a credit either, but a real rate reduction?).
A measure to establish a new government program devoted to campaigning against tobacco use: passed.
And a measure to take the independent and corporate-style running of our state's workforce safety and insurance program (which had been saving we taxpayers money), and bring it back under the direct control of the state: passed. (Folks I talk to largely blame this one on allegations of a culture of corruption within the non-government board overseeing WSI's operations.)
All actions rather unlike the reputation for conservatism we're outwardly known for to the rest of the nation.
It's a strange and interesting duality. You might say Californians now have a little taste of what it's like to be a North Dakotan, and the same is true for me of them.