Monday, February 07, 2005

Taking the Initiative

Something Californians have no problem doing, it seems . . . .

Today's SF Chron warns that a special election this November could see a ballot littered with up to 63 inititiaves - none of them controversial at all since they might include measures on abortion, immigrants' drivers licenses, the budget and spending, union political fundraising power - and there's that redistricting question (unsexy but the most important of the group).

Of course, the Chron doesn't add that most of the proposals that have passed through the Secretary of State's office so far will fail to collect the requisite signatures to appear on the ballot, but even if one-third do - it will be a daunting trip to the voting booth for even the savviest California voters (read: hell, I don't even want to read that much language - and I'm a raging nerd).

As I've mentioned before - if constructed correctly, redistricting reform would go a long way to correcting many of the problems addressed in the proposed initiatives that just can't get a fair day in the legislature right now. Of course, the prevailing political culture could take decades to moderate enough to encourage people to re-embrace representative democracy and not this faux-direct democracy process.

My advice - be wary of signing anything next time you're approached at the mall. Not only are there numerous ideas, there are usually many versions of that idea put into circulation as insurance against potential legal issues over the language, political problems, or just as straight decoys. Don't take my word for it: witness the madness first hand.

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