Paul Jacob

Many amongst our elite opinion leaders find government “Of the people” so passé. Yes, they’re all for government for the people, and plenty of it: Nanny-state government run by them. But government “by the people?” Egads, no.

Hardly a week goes by without legislators or big lobbyists in one state or another suggesting that the entire voter initiative process be scrapped. Or proposing a myriad of ways to cripple initiative efforts . . . that is, when total destruction isn’t politically viable.

This week’s anti-democratic drumbeater is State Senator Chuck Gross, a Republican representing St. Charles, Missouri. He wrote an op-ed for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch bemoaning “uninformed voters” and their right to initiate laws and constitutional amendments that might impinge on the carte blanche enjoyed by politicians.

“The initiative petition process in Missouri is a runaway car without a brake,” wrote the state senator. “It’s not an accident waiting to happen; it’s a car that regularly crashes.”

But, puzzlingly, Sen. Gross doesn’t bother to mention a single vote by Missourians that was mistaken or misguided. Not a single one.

Sure, voters sometimes do regret a vote. As was the case recently in Florida, where citizens went back via the initiative process to reverse their decision to build an inter-city bullet train. But voters remain very satisfied with the policy changes made by initiative.

I could quote studies, but that would be pointless, for whether the people, Mr. Gross’s customers, happen to like the laws they’ve passed by initiative doesn’t impress Gross much. Gross’s beef? Politicians don’t control the process.

“No informed debate and fiscal consideration by elected representatives takes place,” he argues, “no matter how serious the consequences these measures may have if uninformed voters pass them into law.”

Gross completely ignores the active debate that goes on in the public about initiatives. But then our debates are “uninformed.”

There’s a theme here: Without career politicians, life itself would be impossible. Or so we’re told . . . by career politicians.


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.