A perfect storm of special interests

One of the best writings I have seen that illustrates the craziness of our political system and demonstrates why significant political change is nearly impossible is the Dan Walters column that appears on page 9 of the February 11 Local News section of The Orange County Register.

It should be required reading for anyone studying political science and public policy. Those contemplating running for public office as well as those who expect any newly elected state legislator who touted reform in their campaign to be successful should also read it. Here are the salient points from Walter’s column:

• Efforts are under way, using professional signature gatherers (paid for each signature obtained), to qualify numerous initiatives for the State ballot.
• One such measure is a proposal to remove congressional redistricting form the Legislature’s authority and give it to an existing independent commission.
• This prompted some Democratic members of Congress to launch a rival measure to eliminate that Commission.
• Two proposed initiatives aimed at public employees, one to reduce pension benefits to future public employees and the other to restrict union’s ability to raise and spend funds for political purposes, have sparked a backlash of union backed measures also seeking signatures to qualify for the ballot.
• Reportedly supporters of Meg Whitman in her run for the Governorship are discouraging supporters of these public employee measures from pursuing them, fearing the result will be a big voter turnout drive by unions in the November elections which would not bode well for Whitman.
• Repair California, a group trying to qualify two measures for the ballot that would call a constitutional convention to overhaul California’s constitution, says that professional signature gathering firms are not only boycotting their effort, they are working against them. The reason? These firms, which are paid for every signature gathered, are believed to fear that any such constitutional convention would come up with changes that would impose limitations on using initiatives as a political policy tool, and that of course would threaten these firms’ livelihood.

If one wonders why our system of governance is such a mess, one only needs to re-read the Walters column. And, keep in mind it is just a snapshot of a point in time, and these kinds of conflicting attempts to manipulate the voter and public opinion is an on-going process by special interests out to protect or increase their bread and butter. Perhaps this reality helps explain why voter turnout is so low, and why increasingly the public is disgusted with our government processes.

About Over But Not Out

A retired Orange County employee, and moderate Republican. The editor seriously does not know OBNO's identity as did not the former editor, but his point of view is obviously interesting and valued.