How the Initiative Culture Broke America
This article is titled How The Initiative Culture Broke California. But to a lesser extent, these initiatives have crippled the rest of the country as well.
In 1978, Proposition 13 was the beginning of California’s straitjacket. Schools, libraries and local governments were decimated by the public’s new ability to “decline” property tax increases. Who the fuck is gonna vote “Yes, raise my taxes! I wasn’t using that money for anything anyway. Hit me!”
And Proposition 13 was the first law I knew about where a two thirds vote is required to raise taxes. Now it seems to be the norm. Any time a fire department or mass transit district is in jeopardy, it takes less than 34% of the voters saying “No” to kill it.
What ever happened to that simple logical concept of Majority Rule? It must be nice to be on the side that only requires one third of the vote to succeed. Hey, here’s an idea — when Obama is up for re-election in 2012, it’ll require a two thirds vote to get him out of the White House. If 34% of the public votes for Obama, he stays until 2016. Sound like a plan?
Aside from this retarded two thirds vote requirement, the initiative process itself has been hijacked by powerful interest groups. All you have to do is spend a few million dollars to pay those ubiquitous signature gatherers. Then you have to pay again for some expert legal advice, so you know exactly how much deceit and trickery you can pull off without (technically) breaking the law. Then all you have to do is spend ten million dollars, twenty million, whatever it takes (and the price keeps going up) to saturate the airwaves with a few expertly designed soundbites that are guaranteed to push all the right emotional buttons. And then — Presto! The People Have Spoken!
Don’t get me wrong; I’m all in favor of the initiative process. We’ve gotten some good along with the bad. For every economic straitjacket that voters pass, there’s a medical marijuana initiative.
But there are too many abuses that need to be reined in.
Another slippery side of the initiative process is the timing of some of these votes. Karl Rove was an expert at this. During the 2004 election, some of the closest battleground states just happened to have a gay marriage ban on the ballot. Gee, what were the chances of that? An anti-gay marriage initiative guaranteed that every inbred snake-handling dumbfuck would get out there and vote. And while they were in the voting booth, they’d vote for Bush. How conveeenient!