creators.com opinion web
Conservative Opinion General Opinion
Jim Hightower
Jim Hightower
23 Jul 2014
Can a $7 Billion Penalty Be a Good Deal?

Media outlets across the country trumpeted the stunning news with headlines like this: "Citigroup Punished." … Read More.

16 Jul 2014
History Is Calling

Most of us celebrated July 4 by barbequing, doing a few 12-ounce elbow bends and setting off some fireworks. … Read More.

9 Jul 2014
Walgreens Inversion Perversion Another Corporate Tax Loophole

How would you react if one of your neighbors announced that while he obviously benefits from having clean water,… Read More.

Ballot-measure Democracy a Notable Success in 2012

Comment

This being the season of giving, it's worth looking back at some special gifts from November's election that received little acknowledgement at the time.

These victories came in campaigns that had no candidates — no Democrats, Republicans or other party designations. Rather, they were ballot initiatives — policy ideas put to a vote of people themselves. This is an exercise in direct democracy that was first proposed by the historic Populist movement of the 1870s. It's presently available to citizens in 26 states and hundreds of cities — and in this past year, it produced some serious progressive wins.

Unfortunately, corporations and super-wealthy individuals have now glommed onto this democratic innovation with deep-pocket vengeance, using their silos of money and expertise in PR deceit to pass some awful proposals and kill some great ones. Still, though, progressives are making good use of the initiative alternative to build winning coalitions around many big issues that the power structure refuses to address. They achieved several important public policy victories in November, even in red and purple states, showing again that populist issues can open minds, shove aside right-wing orthodoxy and overcome corporate money.

Many of these came in grassroots efforts to overturn Citizens United. This Supreme Court-sanctioned daylight robbery of the people's democratic authority should have been at the center of Barack Obama's campaign against Mr. "Corporations-Are-People" Romney. It certainly warranted a presidential push, and it would have been a winning issue, even among rank-and-file tea partiers — but, zilch.

Beneath the national radar, however, democracy organizers in two states and dozens of cities built formidable campaigns this year to pass initiatives that say "no" to the court's edict allowing a tidal wave of corporate cash to engulf our elections. Here are just a few of the successes:

— A whopping 72 percent of Colorado voters approved Amendment 65, directing their legislature to demand that Congress draft a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United and send it to the states for ratification.

— An even-more-whopping 76 percent of Montanans said "yes" to Initiative 166, declaring that corporations do not have constitutional rights.

— Seventy-four percent of Chicago voters (including 73 percent of Republicans) approved a local initiative demanding that Congress propose an amendment reversing Citizens United.

— Citizens of the burg of Brecksville, Ohio, had to battle their own city hall just to get Issue 25 on the ballot. Theirs was a unique proposal, requiring that city officials convene a biennial "Democracy Day" for residents to express themselves on the impact of corporate cash in their elections. It then required the mayor to send a letter to Congress detailing the people's objections.

Sometimes you can win on your own initiatives, and sometimes by not losing on theirs. Progressives were engaged in both kinds of big fights in this election. A terrific victory for union rights and political fairness was scored this go 'round on California's Proposition 32 — a wad of ugliness put forth by the Koch boys and their malicious cadre of big-money, anti-union ideologues.

Gussied up as a good government reform, the proposition essentially would have gutted labor's participation in political campaigns. It cost unions and their grassroots allies tens of millions of dollars, but they effectively exposed Prop 32 as a right-wing corporate sham — and voters rejected it with a solid 56 percent.

And in the "red" states of Idaho and South Dakota, teachers came out on top. In Idaho, teachers won big with three initiatives to boost teacher rights and education funding, and South Dakota voters repealed an anti-teacher state law that GOP legislators had passed earlier in a burst of ideological idiocy.

Likewise, marriage equality for gays and lesbians gained landmark victories, with wins on all four proposals put on the ballot (Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington). Also, the nation's absurdly expensive and ineffective "war on drugs" took a drubbing, with voters OK'ing medical use of cannabis in Massachusetts and Montana, and with Colorado and Washington becoming the first states to legalize marijuana for personal recreational consumption.

An old bumper sticker declares, "If the people lead, the leaders will follow." In 2012, the people were way ahead of the "leaders."

To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2012 CREATORS.COM



Comments

1 Comments | Post Comment
You mean to tell us your boy Obama isen't standing up against CU, but is instead siding with the status quo? Gee, you don't say. Of course Washington and Colorado were huge victories, no arguements there. About the corperations thing, you seem to be ok with them paying taxes like people, but when it comes to everything else, they're not. Make up your mind, can't have it both ways. And as right-to-work comes up on these ballot measures, prepare to be disappointed.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Wed Dec 26, 2012 9:22 AM
Already have an account? Log in.
New Account  
Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Your Password:
Confirm Your Password:

Please allow a few minutes for your comment to be posted.

Enter the numbers to the right:  
Creators.com comments policy
More
Jim Hightower
Jul. `14
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
29 30 1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31 1 2
About the author About the author
Write the author Write the author
Printer friendly format Printer friendly format
Email to friend Email to friend
View by Month
Marc Dion
Marc DionUpdated 28 Jul 2014
Mark Shields
Mark ShieldsUpdated 26 Jul 2014
Joe Conason
Joe ConasonUpdated 25 Jul 2014

18 May 2010 Who'll Win the 2010 "Icky" Award?

28 May 2014 Has America Gone Crazy?

9 Jan 2013 Why Does a University Need a CMO?