September 19, 2003

Editorial:

The Intitiative Process No Longer Works

The California recall has had more twist and turns than a roller coaster, and it continues to bewilder and amaze. The latest twist of course is the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals postponement of the election until March 2004. If this court decision stands as is, it means six (6) more months of political campaigning - this we could have done without!

The reality is that this whole recall mess should have never occurred at all! If it wasn’t for the fact that one wealthy Republican donor hadn’t propped up this effort the state wouldn’t be wrapped up in this fiasco, spending an obscene amount of money, particularly while our economy is a disaster, on a recall election because the Republicans don’t like the governor.

This recall brings to the forefront the level that politics in California has sunk to - and that politics is fast being run by the initiative process (which is financed by multimillionaires). In this election alone there are two initiatives on the ballot. Last year there were seven initiatives that passed.

The intent of the initiative process was initiated in 1911 in order to provide “direct democracy” take the power out of the hands of monopolies (big business/special interest) and put it into the hands to the people. That process has come full circle and is now a tool that is being used by special interest and those that can afford the process.

The recall election is an excellent example of the initiative process being misused by the rich as they force their will upon the voting public.

We find it incredible that the Republicans on the campaign trail describe this recall effort as a people’s movement, when in fact it is Rep. Darrell Issas’ movement that brought this whole process about.

In last year’s election the Republican Party for all intents and purpose conceded the race to incumbent Gray Davis and his massive war chest that he had accumulated. Unable to unify behind an electable candidate they instead chose a political novice, Bill Simon, who’s only credible assets were his staunch right wing stance and his personal wealth. Simon bundled and stumbled through the campaign and in spite of his campaign; he came a lot closer to defeating Davis than anyone thought imaginable. The Republicans immediately realized that Davis was extremely disliked, and that they blew the election by not running a viable alternative to Davis.

To capitalize on the massive dislike and frustration with the state’s budget woes, a few Republicans started a recall effort almost the day after Davis was inaugurated for his second term, not exactly enough time to do anything to warrant a recall. For all practical purpose this initial effort was going nowhere. Without the necessary monies to fund such an effort this effort would have died then and there. But it was Darrel Issas’ million dollars, which breathed life into the effort, and afforded this small group of men the money to hire signature gathers to collect the nearly 900,000 signatures needed to qualify this initiative.

Another initiative, Prop. 54 the Racial Privacy Initiative, is another example of a special interest group using this process to make a state constitutional amendment to reflect the interest of this group. Other examples were Prop. 187 to do away with affirmative action, Prop. 209 to do away with health services to migrants, English Only initiative, all reflect a special interest.

But none of these initiatives would have made it to the ballot if it were not for the influx of millions of dollars needed to quality these initiatives to go before the voters. This is no longer direct democracy by the people, but it is now (dictatorship) democracy by the rich.

In 1911 when the imitative process was created it was a different time and different needs. In 2003 the intent of the initiative process has been misconstrued to serve the needs of the oligarchy and control the masses.

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