If the money and power of big business and big labor were limited to placing their ideas on the ballot for voters to decide — rather than intimidating or purchasing our legislators — wed be way ahead of the political game.
Even more importantly, if the citizen initiative — so crucial to reforms like term limits and other innovative checks on the excesses of big government — is to be restricted for the most powerful political organizations, how will grassroots citizens, property rights groups, taxpayer advocates and other far less well-heeled reformers ever be able to overcome such new hurdles?
Secretary of State Johnson acknowledged as much, dodging questions as to how legislation could block special interests without eclipsing less special folks, and finally offering weakly that, We just need to look at the system and make sure its working as well as it can, but well protect that First Amendment right.
But theres an irony here: both big business and big labor, responsible for the super-sized spending on this years ballot measures, will almost certainly support reining in the citizen initiative. Why? They fear the weapon it constitutes for grassroots citizen control of government more than they value their own ability to succeed through placing measures on the ballot.
As for politicians, they have their own, almost personal, reasons to disdain direct democracy. They see citizen action as direct competition. And so their reform ideas so far put forth run the usual gamut of insiders vexation with outsiders:
Any of these, if passed, would be challenged and declared unconstitutional for violating the First Amendment rights of the people — just as similar enactments by legislators in Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, Ohio, and Oklahoma have been in recent years.
No legislator or statewide official has suggested making it easier for non-special interests to put an idea before the voters. They seem to believe the people of Michigan voted correctly . . . but must be prevented from voting again. (links/references)
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