Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

“Democracy should be for everyone,” says Michelle Romero of the Greenlining Institute. That sounds right.

She also argues that “California speaks 200 languages, but our initiative petitions speak only one. We can bring millions of voters fully into our democratic process, and it will only cost about a penny per person.”

Romero is talking about Senate Bill 1233, authored by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), which mandates that the California Attorney General translate every citizen initiative or referendum or recall petition into nine languages: Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese.

More people able to get involved politically? I like that.

Still, it was strange to see California legislators, who regularly scheme to wreck the initiative process, passing legislation to enable more participation. Well, it was strange, until I learned that SB 1233 doesn’t simply provide citizens with petitions in various languages, as an option. No, this legislation would force citizens to carry petitions not only in English, but also in those other languages.

Accordingly, SB 1233 forces initiative proponents to spend the money to print their petition in ten languages. Of course, for well-heeled political groups that’s a minuscule cost, but it makes it that much more difficult for less well-financed grassroots groups to participate.

Cesar Diaz, Legislative and Political Director of the State Building and Construction Trades Council, said, “It’s just common sense to give all voters an equal say in deciding what goes on the ballot.”

Forcing cumbersome requirements onto citizens petitioning their government won’t give voters a say. It’s just another sneaky measure devised by political insiders to make sure citizens have less input, not more.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor


  1. Robert Helpmann says:

    “It’s just common sense to give all voters an equal say in deciding what goes on the ballot.”

    It’s also common sense to have all American voters speak and read English.

  2. Keith Geist says:

    I guess english is included in the 200 languages. So it will probably cost us less money to teach the other 199 english. I live in California.

  3. Drik says:

    The Constitution is supposed to protect us from both government AND democracy, or at least guard the means that we can protect ourselves from same peacefully. Not working.

  4. Lynn Atherton Bloxham says:

    Laws to force petitioners to accommodate this are wrong and certainly cause problems for the petitioners. It sounds as if some supporters of the bill were indifferent to the ramifications or had nefarious intentions.

    That said, I wish that people would get off the “speak English” mantra. It is not that simple and for people who had no exposure to other languages as young children, learning a second language is rarely successful, regardless of their desire. I am always tempted to ask how many languages the person insisting everyone speak English, how many languages they speak fluently.

  5. Drik says:

    “It’s just common sense to give all voters an equal say in deciding what goes on the ballot.”

    What an idiot product of government schools. Probably doesn’t even understand the dangers of democracy and that we are NOT one. Common sense would just as easily dictate that some of the folks in this country as represented by the folks interviewed by Leno in his man-on-the-street interviews shouldn’t even be driving or operating a checkbook, let alone voting.

  6. MoreFreedom says:

    This appears like it might be an unconstitutional restriction on freedom to petition the government, as these are petitions for referendums.

    Regardless, I wish Romero would say “Freedom should be for everyone.” Democracy after all, is two wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner.

  7. Pat says:

    The people of California voted for this nonsense. It’s up to them to stop it.

  8. Jay says:

    RE: Ms. Bloxham- “speak English”–in the past THE IMMIGRANTS ( my grandparents amongst them–from Russia) LEARNED ENGLISH.

    I have friends ( mid 30’s) from the former Soviet Union, who learned English- as did their parents (people in their 60’s or so) – because they feel that in the US English is necessary.

    What they speak at home is their business.

    To be a citizen, should know at least basic English.

    then again, some high school (college?-well, the athletes anyway) would probably also not pass the test.

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