Today we go to the polls to make our voices heard. Many of us will choose to be silent. That is a sad and depressing fact. In a world where so many have given so much for the right to have a say in their government, the fact that we have low voter turnout is appalling.

The practice of voting is one that everyone who can do, should do. It may seem like a waste of effort since the Republican Party has their presumptive nominee and the Democrats will likely have their presumptive nominee today no matter what happens in California but the fact is that there are other issues on the ballot. There are other choices to be made.

We are voting for a new Senator. There are 36 candidates who want to be sent to the Senate. Our two leading candidates are Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez. Both are qualified and either will likely be a good choice going forward. But in order for your voice to be heard you must participate.

There are 34 other choices for Senator from various parties, and those of even no party. I am not one of them. I am not running for office this year and likely not in this lifetime.

I have a very low tolerance for the endless sitting around in hearings and sessions listening to others pontificate on how important they feel some minor issue is and making more strangling laws that fail to actually serve the greater good.

A policy wonk is often also a person who is excellent at back room politicking. They see the way the game is played out in public and in private. Yes we have laws that are supposed to prevent politicians from acting in private and to curb graft, but as my older brother always reminds me, “look to see whose ox was gored.” That means that in any new legislation someone lost and someone won.

For example, years ago we didn’t have to wear helmets to ride bikes as kids. Motorcyclists didn’t have to wear helmets. Skiers and snowboarders were never seen with a helmet but only with a funny knitted hat.

Then the law changed and it was mandatory for motorcyclists, then kids on bikes. So whose ox was gored? Those who liked to ride helmetless. Who won? Helmet manufacturers and insurance companies. They created a much larger market for their goods and it keeps expanding. The insurers created a possible new way to try and deny coverage by saying “you violated the law we don’t want to cover your damages.”

How did that law get passed? The helmet manufacturing industry wanted to increase their market so they hired a lobbyist to write a law and got a politician to propose it, and the policy people worked it through the legislature to the point that the Governor signed it.

Does the helmet law help the greater good? Maybe, maybe not.  But is it the law? Yes. Kind of like a new restraining order we have in California.

It is now the law of California that if a person who owns a gun and is a danger to themselves or others by way of mental illness, a family member or police officer can seek and receive a restraining order to remove the gun from the restrained person.  I learned this last month when I attended a continuing education seminar for family lawyers on this new restraining order.

I spoke to my fellow lawyers and the general consensus was that this is yet another solution in search of a problem. So why did it happen? Remember a few years back that tragedy of a young man in college in Santa Barbara who killed people with his gun? His parents tried to stop it and the police said there was nothing they could do. So who won with his new law? The police. They now have a new and easier way to do searches and seizures. It is an increase in their powers and suspension of someone’s Constitutional rights without any bad acts. I’m not a fan- but it’s the law.

So “why vote?” you may be asking, because the way that laws get passed is by people pushing for their laws. If you want good laws to be passed you need good people in charge and the only way your choice of a good person gets heard is if you vote.