Another View: Prop. 49 lets citizens have a voice

07/23/2014 12:00 AM

07/22/2014 9:38 PM

You know our republican form of government is faltering when the editorial board of a leading newspaper like The Sacramento Bee objects to citizens advising our elected officials on how we want them to represent us, as Proposition 49 does in calling upon Congress to overturn the Citizens United ruling that has opened the floodgates to unlimited campaign spending (“Brown should have vetoed advisory vote,” Editorials, July 18).

Big money in politics is out of control. When faced with so grave a threat, citizens and legislators must use every possible tool to restore a government of, by and for the people.

Unlike the California Constitution that voters can amend directly, our federal constitution can be amended only by our elected representatives. With corporate CEOs drowning out the voices of ordinary Americans, citizens must speak out collectively so that our voices can be heard, too. Proposition 49 provides a structured debate about whether our elections should be up for sale, arguably the most pressing issue of our time. Unlike a poll or a petition, Proposition 49 allows opponents to present their side as well, and for voters to then decide.

Contrary to the editorial’s assertions, the Legislature approved Proposition 49 only after an unprecedented outpouring of public support that included more than 55,000 petition signatures, 176,000 faxes and a march from Los Angeles to Sacramento culminating in a nonviolent protest where dozens were arrested at the Capitol.

Proposition 49 follows the tradition used by the framers of the Constitution in which constituents instruct Congress to act. California has used similar ballot measures to successfully press for other amendments to the Constitution.

Proposition 49 is part of a national movement demanding that Congress take action to curtail big money in politics. In 2012, voters in Montana and Colorado approved similar measures by margins of 3 to 1. Californians now have the chance to elevate the debate to the national stage.

Voters who are serious about using the checks and balances of our Constitution to rein in a runaway Supreme Court and restore integrity and fairness to our elections will vote “yes” on Proposition 49. Elitists who abhor the thought of voters speaking collectively about pressing issues of the day may vote “no.” But at least we’ll all get a chance to have our voices heard.

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