D. Dowd Muska attacks conservatives and libertarians for so strongly supporting voter initiative and referendum. From the august pages of the Hartford Business Journal, he writes that we’re “hopped up on the false notion that elected officials respond not to voters but the dictates of liberal elites.” It all started, he says, after passage of Proposition 13 in California, back in 1978: “America’s right swooned.”
Well, I plead guilty — for both swooning and then being “hopped up” on citizen access to a path to check their elected know-it-alls. Prop 13 not only saved Californians from losing their homes to exploding property taxes, it also touched off a nationwide revolt. Within two years, 43 states passed property tax relief and another 15 states (including California) enacted income tax cuts.
But Muska warns initiatives “have a mixed record.” He points to a number of measures, some initiatives and others placed on the ballot by legislators, which have expanded government spending or regulation.
Talk about astounding revelations! Of course voters aren’t going to always be right. They won’t agree with Muska 100 percent of the time. They won’t even acquiesce to my superior wisdom and vote my way every time.
Still, it seems to me that any decision legitimately the province of our government ought to be open to democratic oversight by citizens.
Others, like Muska, prefer that voters choose between candidates Tweedledum and Tweedledee — and then to butt out.
Real options work better. For everyone but insiders.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.