Good grief, it’s a long ballot on Tuesday. President, U.S. Senate, Congress, countless local races – and 17 statewide ballot initiatives. Seventeen!
The topics include legalizing pot, extending tax increases and abolishing the death penalty. But all of them boil down to a single question: Are Californians still capable of governing themselves?
I’d wager the answer come Wednesday will be “No.” (Which, come to think of it, is my default vote on any ballot initiative. All measures are unworthy until proven otherwise.)
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Sacramento Bee
How is that possible? Isn’t the mere act of direct democracy proof-positive that Californians are governing themselves, as H.L. Mencken might have said, good and hard?
As always, the answer comes down to what the people are voting for.
Amnesiac and supine voters will likely approve Proposition 55, which would extend until 2030 the “temporary” income tax hike they approved in 2012. Originally, the tax increase on the incomes of California’s upper earners was supposed to expire in 2018.
Gov. Jerry Brown in 2014 told inquiring reporters that he campaigned for Proposition 30 in 2012 as a temporary, emergency measure. “That’s my belief, and I’m doing what we can to live within our means,” he said.
Although Brown isn’t actively supporting Proposition 55, he’s said that substantial budget cuts are likely if it fails. The “emergency” never ends.
Law-abiding citizens will face greater challenges in defending themselves and their property against felons, thanks to Proposition 63, a truly demagogic measure that would impose background checks on buyers of ammunition, among other things.
Proposition 63 would also ban the possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines, of which there are literally millions in circulation and can be manufactured easily enough with 3-D printers. But Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to be governor, so it’s imperative for voters to avoid thinking through the particulars.
And of course, voters will likely approve Proposition 58 – a fitting choice for our ever-stratifying multicultural dystopia.
It wasn’t so long ago that Latino parents were demanding their children learn English so they might aspire to better lives and circumstances. Proposition 227 ended linguistic apartheid for Latinos. Proposition 58 would restore it.
Multilingual education is a fine thing. But a “yes” vote guarantees that a sizable Latino student population, actively discouraged from assimilation anyway, will be subjected to the old bilingual education regime.
In short, Californians are choosing high taxes, more regulations and fewer safeguards for law-abiding citizens – and I haven’t mentioned infrastructure or the never-ending squeeze on Central Valley farmers.
What might the Golden State look like a few years hence? It isn’t difficult to imagine. Look at New York state beyond the gilded borough of Manhattan, the hipster enclave of Brooklyn and the suburbs of Long Island. Agriculture is dying and manufacturing is gone. All gone.
Our coastal elites labor under the misapprehension that the lights will come on and that prosperity is their birthright. They won’t. It isn’t.
But at least we’ll have legal pot.
If I’m right about what’s coming, then I intend to be very, very high for the foreseeable future. Life as a lotus-eater doesn’t seem so bad.
But that isn’t how a republic is supposed to function. We know our legislators cannot control themselves. But clearly, neither can the voters. After all, we keep electing these people – and voting for terrible ballot initiatives.
Ben Boychuk is managing editor of American Greatness, a journal of conservative opinion. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.