(excerpt) Louis Howe: “…. it’s the most natural thing in the world for there to be a big empty restaurant sitting there all alone, miles from anywhere … with a broken helicopter sitting on its roof. But we must move on.”
In Part 1 of Disconnect(ed) we were able to define a group of voters in Calaveras County – a large majority group of voters. This majority is older, retired or semi-retired, and lives in their own single-family home. It has enough in common to beg two important questions: what do they (the majority) want, and are they getting it? In this Part 2 we will confine ourselves to the first question …
… We now come to what is meant by rational. Since we are being strictly Calaveras-specific, the question devolves to, given the common characteristics of the majority in Calaveras County, what characteristics of Calaveras County policies would be the most rational for that majority?
For us, our definition of rationality begins with a frank admission that it is irrational to expect any voter to vote for policies that result in harm to themselves or their family unless that harm is shared fairly, and / or there is an overriding benefit to those being harmed and / or the community at large.
Harm can be defined as physical harm, financial harm, or a reduction in the overall quality of life, e.g. reduced air quality, transportation bottlenecks, noise, etc.
So the first rational characteristic of County policies for the majority would be that they do no harm. Conversely, the other side of the coin would indicate that the second rational characteristic of County policy for the majority would be that it enhances their physical, financial, and over-all quality of life.
So, rationally, what are the issues the majority of voters in Calaveras County might reasonably agree upon?
In early May 2014, FreeTri-Tip Dinner published “Disconnect – Whose Issues Are We Talking About?” In this piece we presented a lot of statistics that pretty much proved that people over age 55 are a clear majority of the votes cast in Calaveras elections. At the end we wondered aloud whether the Supervisorial candidates’ platform and policy priorities would reflect this insight. The answer was, generally, not so much. None of the candidates except 3rd District candidate Michael Olivera specifically mentioned “senior citizens” in any policy-related manner, and this, like almost all of Mr. Olivera’s published policy ideas, was not burdened with specifics.
After the election results came in later that year, and two new faces joined a Board that already had three new faces from the previous election, we resolved to watch the policy priorities of the Board through this filter. After all, it would make sense that if one age group casts three-quarters of the votes, that age group might reasonably expect to have its voice heard and its concerns addressed. But what are those concerns? Is there a ‘senior agenda’ and if so, what would it be?
We’ll re-visit this issue in three parts. Part One will update the statistics with information from the most recent elections, and answer three questions: first, what is the age distribution of the entire population of Calaveras County? Second, what is the age distribution of the registered voters and, finally, what is the age distribution of the people who actually vote?
As in the first piece, we will find that in all three groups, population, registered voters, and actual voters, the age distribution is significantly older here than the State average. New this time, in Part 1 we’ll also look at some other statistics from the Census bureau that show what other politically important characteristics this population has in common.