Governor Schwarzenegger is changing the nature of democracy in California by bypassing the state legislature and submitting three key bills straight to referendum in November special elections. After his election almost two years ago in the highly unorthodox open ballot format, polls show his approval ratings are at an all time low. Now, Schwarzenegger turning again to the initiative system to salvage his floundering political career.
What is so troubling about this sentiment is that California is abandoning the legislature with all its safeguards for the minority in favor of a new kind of democracy that makes it extremely costly for anyone to advocate their opinion. Groups like the California teachers union that opposes the issues in Schwarzenegger’s elections package will spend an exorbitant amount of money promoting their ideas. The teachers union is already charging its member an extra $60 in member dues in an attempt to raise $50 million that will go towards fighting Schwarzenegger’s legislation.
The special elections are also going to cost the state of California. In a state that already spends $1.10 for every dollar of state tax money, Schwarzenegger’s November special elections will cost the state an additional 45 million dollars. Many have called the elections a horribly “wasteful” use of money considering there is no real reason to move up a vote on the ballot issues. Schwarzenegger’s new form of democracy certainly gives a new meaning to the phrase the cost of doing business.
– Andrea Dinneen