At times, the campaign experience may feel more like a free fall from the 75th floor of the Columbia Tower. Politics is not a spectator sport. That's why I phone bank and walk door to door every autumn during the even years. And I like it... that is the crazy part. I love chatting with voters who have a lot to say when given half a chance. This week I was on the phones. You never know what someone is going to say. That's the fun part and rarely are people rude even though you are entering their space and asking for some of their precious time. Midway into my calls, I spoke with a voter in his eighties who had received his ballot and was making his way through the Voter Pamphlet. He spoke slowly and deliberatively about his review of the initiatives.
So here is a little context:
The State of Washington Voters' Pamphlet is 119 pages long with 35 critical pages devoted to six proposed ballot measures that are game changers. It is not news to this audience that our state has been hit hard by the Great Recession and one of the effects has been a drop in the revenue our state has to fund critical safety net programs. Our legislators last year took hard votes to ensure we honor our values as a state. But first, I want to tell you what the voter shared with me. He said something like this, "It looks like we have government by ballot measure instead of by the people we send to Olympia to represent us." Washington's initiative process may be sacrosanct, but we might pause to consider its impact on the ability of our representative government to function. We can disagree with our legislators' votes and vote them out of office. That's what we do in a representative democracy. Even if we read the many pages describing the initiatives, are we really in a position to second guess their decisions? And worst of all, our initiative process allows unelected out-of-state corporations to cynically spend millions of dollars to undo the work of our elected legislature. How will our legislators ever have the political will to take tough votes to protect Washingtonians?
Now is the time to let our friends, family and neighbors know that Washingtonians need to do the right thing and oppose initiatives that straight jacket legislators AND remove revenue that protects and improves all of our lives.
Vote NO on I-1053, I-1100 and I-1105, I-1082, and I-1107.
Pam Crone lobbies for Legal Voice, and several other social-justice-oriented organizations in Washington State.
Photo Credit: Theresa Thompson