“YOU WRITE too much about politics,” said a woman who works the checkout stand in my grocery store.

I admit it. I do. There are other things I enjoy in life, like comedy, drama and heaps of money. Politics has it all, plus the ability to reshape life – or end human life on this planet.

In what other field but politics would an unknown businessman, Al Checchi, spend $40 million of his own money to become hated all over California?

Some entrepreneur Checchi turned out to be. Bill Gates made $45 billion while becoming hated all over the entire world.

Barry Goldwater died on Friday, and his death affected me a lot more than I would have predicted when I was 18.

He’s the man who got me interested in politics, in a reverse sort of way, when he sank himself in the 1964 presidential election by saying, “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.” Visions of mushroom clouds danced in voters’ heads.

Instead we got Lyndon Johnson and a long, sad education in napalm and street politics.

The best man didn’t win. On the other hand, we’ll never know if Goldwater would have found his place in history by ending history with Gen. Curtis LeMay’s nukes. Goldwater did better by losing, and being remembered as the honorable man and true conservative he was.

What I recall best is having to defend Johnson’s brand of liberalism in discussions with my conservative friends. Except for civil rights, it wasn’t easy. But they were discussions, not fights.

Those were the days when conservatives and liberals still talked, and were friends. Those were the days when people still called themselves liberals, before liberals in Washington started liberally killing kids in Vietnam.

Those were the days. Now almost everyone is a little conservative and a little liberal, and hates being labeled. Maybe these are better days.

Maybe it’s because these are better days that we can afford to hate politics and concentrate on the finer things. Still, I don’t know why everyone hates politics. What’s to hate besides the politicians?

It’s a great spectator sport. It has to be at the national and state level, because only those who can pony up big donations or the family fortune can play.

Despite the higher entrance fees, politicians are smaller. However, they’re examined under bigger media magnifying glasses.

The Congress is a much smaller place than when Johnson and Goldwater were there. When you speak of principles, the names “Trent” and “Newt” don’t spring to mind.

But for shtick political comedy, you can’t beat car-alarm mogul Darrell Issa running for Senate amid allegations he stole cars as a youth, inflated his military record and once brought a gun into an office during a business transaction. His response was: “Shots were never fired.”

Politics is about the redistribution of wealth, and I’m not talking about communism. Rich people distribute some wealth into campaigns. Consultants distribute that money to themselves and highly skilled makers of crummy TV ads designed to keep people from voting.

After the election, the politicians redistribute your income, generally in the direction of the people who gave to them. It’s what you might call a closed system. It’s closed to you.

All politics is local, and probably more so than ever now that national politics is all spin and dirt, and nothing washes.

In San Francisco, neighborhood groups have banded together to lobby City Hall for recreation facilities and improvements in mass transit. In Mill Valley, hundreds of citizens have organized to fight downtown development which has turned the town into a day-tripper mecca.

The ballot initiative supposedly was invented to bring citizens back into politics, but it’s just added a new and more distasteful meaning to the word “proposition.”

I like sitting in the bleachers of politics. I try not to do endorsements. But when it comes to propositions, I sometimes do disendorsements.

Next Tuesday, please consider voting against Prop. 226 and Prop. 227.

Prop. 226 is a trick to lock organized labor out of politics. It would make unions get members’ individual permission to use their dues for campaign contributions, even though union leaders are democratically elected. It further reduces the power of working people, and ultimately will redistribute income to the rich.

If Prop. 226 were at all fair, it would make shareholders sign off on corporate campaign contributions.

As for Prop. 227, vote against it not because bilingual education in California is so wonderful, which it hasn’t been.

Vote against it because it’s an effort by one rich guy, Ron Unz, to tell parents, teachers and local schools what to do with children in the classroom. Teachers can be held financially liable if they don’t follow Unz’s dictates about language.

Who made him language god?

Politics is supposed to be entertaining. It isn’t supposed to mess with kids’ minds.

Get out and vote Tuesday and have fun.

Comments are closed.