The election-night headlines didn't seem cheerful for those dedicated to ending capital punishment in California. Proposition 34, the audacious attempt to use ballot initiatives to abolish the death penalty, was defeated. The narrowness of the final vote (52-48 percent) was some consolation, but this was in part the result of the lack of an energetic campaign by the state's district attorneys.
And isn't it folk wisdom that close calls only count in horseshoes? Don't the anti-death-penalty partisans belong in the ballot initiative loser's bracket for 2012 along with the food labelers and union busters?
I don't think so. A closer reading of both the 2012 election in California and of the current circumstances of the death penalty suggests that the endgame for capital punishment in the Golden State is well under way. And, in the future, a history of the end of California's death penalty will give substantial credit to the quixotic crusade of Prop. 34.
[ Out of loss, light ]