Thursday, June 08, 2006

Let the People Decide…The Way We Want Them To

During the debate over whether to constitutionally restrict public revenue in Wisconsin, conservative proponents insisted that referendums are the only just and fair way to determine increases in public funds.

Let the people decide! was their rallying cry.

Apparently they didn't expect the people to make the wrong decision.

Some conservative bloggers were all fired up yesterday about the decision made by the majority of Racine voters (54%) to approve $6.5 million in additional funding for their schools.

Here's some of the reaction --

Owen at Boots and Sabers: "Racine is 54% moron." He also added, "Idiots."

James at Wigderson Library & Pub (emphasis in original): "I'm beginning to believe the reason Racine schools do so poorly is genetic. It's not everyone in Racine, I know. But I no longer blame the school district for any problems it may have educating the students. Look at the dumb genetic stock the students come from."

Fred at RealDebate Wisconsin: "So Racine will live the definition of insanity once again. This community will continue to be a source of ridicule, well deserved it will be."

Sean at The American Mind: "They're hopeless."

Peter at Texas Hold 'Em: "Proving that P.T. Barnum was right and indeed there's a sucker born every minute. Pictured above [a sucker] is every one of the morons who voted for this."

Anyone still think the revenue amendment was actually about letting the people decide?


Side-Note: This post was initially written on Wednesday, but technical difficulties with Blogger kept it from being published until today.


Blogger James Wigderson said...

Seth, there's nothing incompatable with believing the voters should have a say in their level of taxation and then criticizing them for making the wrong decision. Democracy means that sometimes people get it wrong. I mean, I still believe in elections even though stupid people keep electing Russ Feingold.

June 09, 2006  
Blogger James Wigderson said...

By the way, does this mean I can imply from your post you believe we cannot trust the public to make the right decision, so we should just abolish elections?

June 09, 2006  
Blogger Seth Zlotocha said...

What I quote above (and what is in the rest of the posts I cite) is not criticism -- it amounts to personal attacks on the residents of Racine.

Where would you imply that I think we should abolish elections? I don't see where you're getting that assertion.

Referendums and elections are two different things. I am a strong proponent of representative democracy, while I agree there are cases where direct democracy is useful (mostly in an advisory capacity, but not always).

I do not think incessant referendums are the best way to handle fiscal policy. We elect representatives (and have open meetings laws) to deal with fiscal policy.

With the way PR has merged with politics over the last 50 years, referendums often are more style than substance. Granted, elections are faced with this, too, but elections aren't intended to be as specific as referendums. It's much easier to grasp a candidate's message or platform through the maze of political PR than it is to understand the intricacies of fiscal management decisions that are at stake with most binding referendums.

Also, the way the referendum question is phrased often plays too strong of a role in the outcome for my liking. I write more about that here.

June 09, 2006  

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