So many proposals, so little time – what’s a girl to do? Next week, everyone in Michigan will feel like the belle of the ball with their dance card absolutely full of suiters wanting an answer.
“What do you think of green energy standards, darling? I must know.”
“Tell me your thoughts on emergency financial managers, my love. Your opinion is everything to me.”
What fun! Everyone wants my opinion!
Most Michiganders, I suspect, don’t feel quite that way. With ballots that are pages long, full of lengthy proposals, most of which are both confusing for voters and incredibly consequential for our state, we are feeling something closer to bewilderment than empowerment. But it’s not just our collective desire to not have to work so hard on election day that is the problem here. Something about putting this many ballots before voters feels wrong, even if it’s hard to determine why.
Last week’s City Pulse from Lansing opened an article explaining each proposal in detail like this:
The Legislature no longer represents the people of Michigan. That’s the inevitable implication of next month’s bedsheet ballot to bypass lawmakers with five proposals to change the Constitution, plus a referendum on a law jammed through the Legislature on a party-line vote.
Sounds pretty extreme, right? And also totally correct. That’s why it feels so weird to have this many detailed proposals before citizens for a direct vote. They may be disguised as constitutional amendments, but these are pieces of legislation. No matter how you feel about any one proposal individually, should we be voting on any of them? When did Michigan become a direct democracy? If we’re going to take complicated legislation to the voters, why bother having legislators at all?
The truly amazing thing is, while the City Pulse is right in saying the implication of this number of ballot proposals is that citizens are pushing back against a legislature they don’t feel represents them, it was Michigan citizens who put those legislators there. And, for the most part, they’re only doing exactly what they said they were going to do while campaigning. To me, that makes the larger implication of the onslaught of ballot proposals the fact that we are not paying close enough attention to who we are electing to the legislature. In a time when we can learn more about our candidates, more easily than ever before, that is mind-boggling.
So yes, it is important to research these proposals thoroughly and vote your conscious on all of them. My instinct is to vote no on all of them — even though I would like to see some of them be law — because this is not the method by which our laws are supposed to be made. More important than that, however, is to thoroughly research our respective legislative candidates and vote our conscious on them. Not by their marketing taglines. Not by their attacks on each other, but by what they say they’re going to do when they get to Lansing.
That should save us from having to do their job for them again in two years.