Should I hold the power to change?

February 22, 2009

A few days ago I received an invitation to join a group suggesting that we vote “no” to all propositions on the ballot.  The more I read, the more it made sense to me.  We don’t live in a democracy, we live in a republic.  Sometimes, special interests groups use the proposition system to allow the majority to override constitutional law.  “What is the chance that the initiative system will be abandoned in states that have adopted it?” I asked.   “Slim.”  

I agree with the groups intent, but on some level, me joining would be like being the first one to come upon an accident scene, and making the choice to drive by.   The prop system is surely broken.  In one swoop the majority of californians took away  the constitutional rights of a minority.   However, I am glad that that same majority used their democratic collective voice to do the right thing when it came to humane treatment of farm animals.   I asked Gene Baur, the founder of “farm sanctuary” and author of the book bearing the same title, for his opinion:  “the initiative process has plusses and minusses. My view, is that there are more benefits than problems. Without the initiative, we would not have been able to enact a law like Prop 2. In fact, after other initiative successes in FL and AZ, the industry worked hard to put obstacles in the initiative process. Inititaives allow for direct democracy, which I think is more good than bad, especially when there is transparency in the process.”

If I happen to live in a state that has this process, while it’s in place I have the voice, and power, to pull over and come to the aid of something that is broken.  Should I have the power to take away something that is already guaranteed?  No.   But until this power is taken away from me, is a blanket “NO”  the right way to clamor for change?     I know myself…..I would have run to the polls to vote “no” to prop 8, but there’s not a snowballs chance in hell that I could have voted “no” to prop 2.


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