April 30, 2012
April 21, 2012
California just celebrated the centennial anniversary of direct democracy last October and it is showing signs of wear and tear according State Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg. He is proposing a series of three changes for the 2014 ballot:
- Allow the Legislature, on a majority vote, to place on statutory initiatives on the ballot. Statutory initiatives include measures to raise taxes.
- Implement an “indirect initiative” process. That’s where initiative proponents refer their proposal to the Legislature after they’ve gathered the requisite number of signatures rather than directly to the voters. Once the proposal is before the Legislature, lawmakers have the option of amending it. Steinberg said 10 other states have similar processes.
- Allow the Legislature, with the governor’s permission, to repeal a voter approved initiative after 10 years. Steinberg said 23 other states have similar rules.
“It sounds obvious, but needs and priorities change. California can no longer afford to be governed by voter approved initiatives that exist in perpetuity, like propositions 13 and 98, two budget related ballot measures that have deeply affected the state’s finances. The initiative process should be an outlet, not a shadow government." - pro Tem Steinberg
Source: Joseph, Brian: "Senate leader wants initiative process changed," Orange County Register. 4/19/12.
Peartstein notes the sad state of our politics--across the nation and in our state capitols. Below is a mash-up of excerpts:
"Genuine bipartisan compromise has gone from standard practice to quaint anomaly. In Washington and increasingly in state capitals, once a majority of the party in control of a chamber decides what it wants to do, everyone else in the party is expected to line up behind it — and everyone in the other party lines up to oppose it. ... Politicians themselves are frustrated at not being able to get things done; they chafe at their loss of independence and public respect; they loathe the endless fundraising needed to wage unending partisan warfare. ... In the vision of politics that many of us carry around in our heads, it is the “median voter,” at the center of the ideological spectrum, who ultimately is supposed to determine the long-term course of government policy. In this model, the best way — the only way — for a party to increase its political market share is to moderate its views to attract such independent swing voters. ... The winning strategy is no longer to be more moderate than your opponent, to offer a bigger tent. Instead, it is to be more zealous and committed to your party’s ideology. ... Negative advertising isn’t about changing minds; it’s about altering the composition of the voter pool on Election Day by turning moderate voters into non-voters. ... Energizing the base has another important advantage: It increases campaign contributions from both small donors and rich zealots. ... The irony is that the politicians who prevail in these gladiator contests inherit a system so bitter, so partisan and so ideologically polarized that they can’t accomplish anything. ... Politics has become a tragedy — a tragedy of the commons, that is. The individual pursuit of rational self-interest by parties and politicians, which in political and economic theory is supposed to generate the best outcome, has instead led to a cycle in which extremism, partisanship and stalemate all beget more of the same. We keep thinking it can’t continue like this, but it only gets worse."
Source: Pearlstein, Steven. "Turned off from politics? That’s exactly what the politicians want," Washington Post. 4/20/12.
Steven Pearlstein is a Washington Post business and economics columnist and Robinson professor at George Mason University. This essay is adapted from the Harold Gortner Lecture he delivered at the university on April 16.
April 10, 2012
Rick Santorum's 2012 campaign has come to an end but he did rise above initial expectations--as noted by former Christian Coalition head, Ralph Reed.
“He began this campaign as an asterisk in the polls and he leaves having won over three million votes and 11 primaries or caucuses, the most by an insurgent conservative candidate since [Ronald] Reagan in 1976. My guess is we haven’t heard the last from Rick Santorum.” - Ralph Reed
Source: Cilliza, Chris. "What Rick Santorum meant — and why he was right to drop out." Washington Post. 4/10/12.
April 6, 2012
Be sure to read the entire HuffPo piece as it strikes at the core of who we are as a people and how much perhaps we've fallen short of our Founders' intent. You could also paraphrase the excerpt below when talking about California.
"My greatest fear for my country is not for its economic system or for foreign competition. My greatest fear is for the health and well-being of our Republic. If we are unable to restore the national interest to its rightful place above partisan and ideological interests, we will have lost that which truly makes us unique and that which is the heart of the American promise and dream."
Source: Hart, Gary. "Saving the Republic," Huffington Post. 4/6/12.