Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I Don't Sign Inititative Petitions Any More ...

I Don't Sign Initiative Petitions Any More ...

There was a time where my feelings about democracy required me (in my own mind anyway) to sign all initiative petitions. I thought it was important to get these issues before the voters. Now, I won't sign any.

The initiative process in Washington is so corporate, so profit oriented, and so Eymanized and corrupt that I simply will not sign any of them.

The initiative process is something that in principle I believe in and want to see succeed. However, it has become a cottage industry for those who want to make profitable changes to the government and tax structure without having to do the hard work of being in government and working to achieve these results the right way. No, today we have amateur legislators like Tim Eyman who have used a system designed for the disenfranchised to have a voice that instead has become a job. Tim Eyman is now as much of a politician as those he criticizes. What is worse, is the jaded and disingenuous way he continues to try and make himself out to be a populist while profiting from his so called grass roots work.

I was at Wazzu the same time as Tim Eyman in the 1980's. I do not remember meeting him. I do not know him personally. He might be a good guy, other than how he has adversely affected politics in this state. This commentary is strictly about the impact his political actions have made.

On July 4th I saw a woman gathering signatures for a petition. She could have cared less about what she was having people sign, she was getting paid for it, apparently by each valid signature. She commented to a man passing by how she had made 194 or so dollars recently at a big event. Was she a believer in what she was having signed? Apparently, no. Did this matter to her? Not at all.

Signature gatherers were once volunteers of a true grass roots group that was working to get signatures so that voters could vote on a measure that was genuinely important to them and that the volunteers thought the state was ignoring. It was hard work. It was supposed to be.

Democracy and enacting change in a republic is supposed to be hard work in order to get people on board to create the compromises necessary to govern effectively. There are all sorts of flaws in that system. But, with hard work and effort and good people giving their time and energy it is possible to make things happen. Instead, the Eymanization of our state has made the legislature that much less responsive, as every year it is forced to confront sometimes contradictory or unconstitutional measures coming out of left field.

According to recent news reports it appears only one initiative has a chance to be on the ballot. Again, it is a measure that has some good intentions, but basically has serious constitutional issues. Again, Eyman dismisses the critics of his measure; playing the populist message no one but his most ardent supporters buy any more. Again, the courts will have to rule on the constitutionality of the measure should it pass. Again, circumventing the legitimate and difficult path to a constitutional amendment is part of the plan. Again, instead of channeling all of the energy and resources at his disposal into something potentially lasting and constructive he has pushed an initiative.

The single initiative with potential ballot access screams a message that I am not the only one with Eymanization fatigue.

I look forward to being asked to sign an initiative one day by someone not profiting from the question.

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