I’m not a big fan of California’s proposition system. I know some folks like it as a way for average citizens to participate in the democratic process, but I’m not entirely convinced that’s always a good thing. Writing legislation is tricky business. Or rather, writing good legislation is tricky business. And determining whether a piece of legislation is good or not is equally tricky.
My beef with the proposition system is that it puts me in a position of having to sort the good, the bad, and the ugly. Isn’t that what we pay legislators for? I feel like this legislation by referendum is just a dressed-up way of subverting the democratic process. Think schools get way too much money? Put it on the ballot. Hate immigrants? Put it on the ballot. Think minorities are getting too “uppity”? Put it on the ballot.
So, I’ve seriously considered voting “no” on all of California’s propositions this year. I’m a closet existentialist, and I believe that if everyone voted down every proposition, then our representatives would actually have to go back to work and, you know, govern. However, things aren’t that simple. Here’s a run-down of what we’ve got to consider:
- Proposition 1A: High-speed rail bonds. Do I like fast trains? Sure. Do I like the idea of spending $9.95 billion on fast trains in a recession? Nope.
- Proposition 2: Regulates cage sizes for chickens. May cost California farmers lots of money, but (to paraphrase Helen Lovejoy) won’t somebody think of the chickens?
- Proposition 3: Children’s hospital bonds. To quote Helen Lovejoy, “won’t somebody think of the children?” Still, there are still unsold bonds from the last time a similar measure was passed (2004), so I’m not sure what the point is.
- Proposition 4: Mandates parental notification for minors seeking abortions. No way. That’s bad news, in more ways than one.
- Proposition 5: Rehab instead of prison for nonviolent offenders. On this one I come dangerously close to wanting to vote “yes.” We put too many drug-offenders in prison as it is. That’s bad for them (obviously) and bad for taxpayers who foot the bill.
- Proposition 6: Commits 1% of state budget to anti-crime programs. Bullshit. I’ll only vote for this when our schools have an equally sweet budget deal.
- Proposition 7: Increases clean energy requirements. Sound good, huh? Not so fast. This is an example of really poorly written legislation. Even the Sierra Club says it’ll set back environmental efforts in the state.
- Proposition 8: Bans same-sex marriage. This one is pure evil. Written by Voldemort.
- Proposition 9: Frankly, I’m a little baffled by this one. It purportedly gives enforceable rights to crime victims’ families, but it sounds like a license for vindictiveness. I say (as with Prop. 6) leave our criminal justice system alone, or leave it to people who know what they’re doing.
- Proposition 10: Alternative fuel rebate bonds. Another apparently environment-friendly proposition, but also opposed by the Sierra Club. Plus, I kind of think T. Boone Pickens has enough money.
- Proposition 11: Puts redistricting in the hand of a 14-member citizens panel. We’re almost to the end of the list, and here’s where I start to feel a little fatigue. This one’s tough. I sort of agree with it in principle, but it will probably result in making California a slightly less “blue” state.
- Proposition 12: Bonds to assist veterans seeking home loans. Seriously, how can you say “no” to that?