Proposition 8 was not a typical voting situation. We weren’t voting to regulate or not to regulate an activity, to raise or not raise taxes, or between two or more individuals. We were voting on whether or not to take civil rights away from a group of people. But people have the right to vote however they choose. It doesn’t matter if you have any knowledge about, or any stake in the matter. It doesn’t matter if you’ve even thought about it, or whether some guy in a robe told you to vote that way or you’d go to hell. I don’t disagree with voting freedoms, I definitely don’t want the government messing around in my mind or trying to determine my intentions.
That said there ought to be some vetting of what is put on the ballot. If by passing a measure or proposition a situation would be created that violates the law, not changes but violates, there should be a way to keep it off the ballot. You could put a measure on the ballot today taking the right to vote away from women, or the elderly, or gays, or any group you like. And, there would be people that would vote yes. Amazing, and one likes to think that a measure like that couldn’t pass, but with enough money and a good advertising campaign (you know, one full of lies), maybe it would.
The idea of the initiative process is a good one but it’s been subverted somewhere along the way. When a state-wide election is determined by “out of state interests” maybe it’s time to take another look at the process.
AND, as I rant merrily along, this goes to all election campaigns, it should (and maybe technically is) be illegal to outright lie in campaign commercials. I know this is not a new phenomenon, but I do not understand why it has been allowed to continue. It’s a time honored tradition to say that your opponent will raise your taxes, or his grandmother wears army boots, but that is not what I’m talking about. When the ERA (equal rights amendment) was actively undergoing ratification people said it would require that all public bathrooms be unisex (it didn’t). With prop 8 they told people that their church would lose its tax exempt status (and other lies). These are not things that remain to be seen or just general childish smears, these are statements and they can easily be proven to be not true (that means they’re lies.)
I’m not sure what to do about the culture of lies that has become American politics. I’m about to go into full rant mode so instead I’ll invite other comments.