Philosophically, California’s proposition system appeals to me. It is a chance for the people, the you and me kind of people, to override the jerks and criminals in Sacramento and enact the laws we want.
On a practical level, the system has become a way for money to buy laws. The biggest winners in this cluster are the media companies who pocket fat wads of cash from both sides of every controversial issue. If I were an unscrupulous media mogul I’d be getting all kinds of controversial shit onto the ballot.
But what to do? Frankly, I’m stumped. Take away the voice of the people? That certainly doesn’t appeal to me. But until we can defang big money, the system will remain broken.
Because it has become a way to pass laws when a special interest determines its cheaper to sway the voters than to pay off the legislators, I always default to “no” on propositions unless some really good reason comes up to vote yes. Like all the advertisements (read money) are pushing the “no” vote. Then there’s a chance maybe it was a good grassroots idea after all.
Oh, and never sign petitions (by paid gatherers) outside of Target and grocery stores.
The tail now wags the proposition dog: Two companies in tax-friendly Nevada pay the vast majority of paid-signature-gatherers in California, supplying voter John Hancocks to the highest bidder.
A few years ago a California state legislator championed a proposition to make paid signature-gathering against the law. It died in the womb, because there exists no other infrastructure to gather large numbers of voter signatures than the two Nevada companies, both of which refused to play along.