California special election tomorrow

Vote NO on everything.


I know there’s a long history of ballot initiatives in California, and I know some of tomorrow’s counter-initiatives might have some merit, and in fact, I prefer direct democracy to layers of representation whenever I can get it. I am fully aware that James Madison and Alexander Hamilton shaped the U.S. Constitution while Thomas Jefferson was off in Paris doing his thing.

Yes, and even so, I can find absolutely nothing of merit on tomorrow’s ballot, with the exception of a couple obvious Yes votes for local Santa Cruz administrative stuff.

Governor Schwarzenegger’s set of proposals are on the ballot because people are paid to stand outside of Trader Joe’s and pitch their petitions. These people are paid per signature, and in no way, shape or form do they care what gets on the ballot. In no way, shape or form are they actively participating in democracy; they are participating in paid work.

The proposals themselves? They include such gems as: “Let’s tell unions what they’re allowed to do with their money” and “Let’s put the power to draw legislative districts into the hands of fewer people.” Right. No and no.

And if I get mail telling me to Vote Yes on “Let’s pass this particular law about medicine,” and the funding for the junk mail comes from Glaxo Smith-Kline and other drug companies, I Vote No.

Most of these are pretty cut-and-dry attempts to take power (and choice) away from the citizenry. Seems like a pretty screwy way to use ballot initiatives.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I prefer letting well-lobbied legislators in Sacramento make these decisions, but when the same corporations spend millions of dollars lobbying the people with television, radio and print advertising, I have a hard time seeing the difference.

In a perfect world, citizens would educate themselves, getting information about each initiative from various sources, carefully considering newspaper editorials and the advice of their friends. In our real world, the people are attacked by a barrage of advertising that often twists statistics, paints in only the broadest and most dramatic strokes, and gives the voter almost no real information about the cause or effect of the proposition.

Ladies and gentlemen, the ballot initiative process is broken in California. Vote no on everything.

[UPDATE: Okay, NPR and my wife talked me into voting Yes on 79. So I’m not a complete spoilsport.]

[tags]california, schwarzenegger, special election[/tags]