Paul Jacob

As a kid, I spent many a summer with my family, vacationing at my aunt and uncle’s lake house in Michigan. Five in their brood and six more kids from our squad, together we created a . . . cacophony. No wonder, when we popped inside to make some request of the parental units, my uncle would quip, “Go play in traffic.”

Today, with those Michigan summers decades past, only politicians tell me to go play in traffic.

This election year in Virginia, Citizens in Charge sent an Initiative & Referendum Pledge to each candidate for the state legislature — and a separate but similar pledge to the three candidates on the ballot for governor. The goal is to identify legislative supporters and to also spur a discussion about the issue of citizen initiative rights — the ability for citizens to petition issues like term limits, tax limits, property rights, etc. onto the ballot . . . even against the wishes of powerful politicians.

The pledge for legislative candidates reads: “If elected to the Virginia General Assembly, I solemnly pledge to do my utmost to propose an amendment to the state constitution, which will, if passed by voters, establish a statewide process of initiative and referendum. I will support, vote for and, if necessary, sponsor such an amendment.”

The letter mailed and emailed along with the pledge to every ballot-qualified legislative candidate also encouraged those aspiring or incumbent elected representatives, whether signing the pledge or not, to “send any additional statement on the issue.”

This week an enthusiastic response came in from an incumbent in the Commonwealth of Virginia’s House of Delegates. This diligent delegate returned the most effusive letter of praise for Citizens in Charge and what we were doing through our Initiative & Referendum Pledge campaign, writing:

“Thank you for including me . . . I appreciate your efforts . . . I understand the value of pledges . . . I strongly encourage constituent groups and other legislative stakeholders to visit me in Richmond . . . I sincerely value your involvement and input . . . My door is always open. . . . I welcome you . . . Please do not hesitate to call my district office . . . I can also be reached anytime via email . . .”

Wow. What an open and welcoming fellow, eh?

Gee whiz, though, surely by “anytime” he doesn’t mean he stays up all night every night waiting to respond to any email that might pop up in his Inbox, does he?


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.