What Referendum? How America voted on Constitutional Amendments Nov. 8th 2011

There may be a few political and cultural insights we can take away from odd-yeared elections but in many cases the news media looks for a referendum in each decision made by the public. I would argue that extremely low turnouts and awkwardly-worded Amendments can not be seen as an accurate bellwether for future elections in most cases. The exception are highly publicized or partisan initiatives. Though even in those cases the implications of any referendum can’t mean much past a state’s borders.  In Ohio, Democrats and unions are celebrating victory over Issue 2 and collective bargaining rights as a referendum on Republican Governor Kasich, while the right are claiming Ohioan’s rejection of a healthcare mandate as a referendum on Obama. In conservative Mississippi voters predictably supported “Voter ID” legislation and limits on eminent domain while rejecting an Amendment that would have established that life begins at conception. In Maine, voters opted to allow same day voter registration but also turned down two opportunities to expand gambling to pay for government services.

It seems the commonality that runs through these results (if we must indeed prescribe a referendum) is that while American’s may not have all the answers they are increasing skeptical that government is up to the challenge of fixing out problems.

More commentary on specific ballot initiatives:

In MIssissippi:

1 Definition of Personhood rejected by 57%. Even Republican Governor Hailey Barbour said he had issues with the language. It had no exception for rape or incest and would have effectively reversed Roe V. Wade in the state.  A group from Colorado who failed to get it passed there brought the referendum to Mississippi because it is considered the “most pro-life” state.

2 Voter ID which voters passed favorably with 62%.  Mississippi is now 1 of 8 states including Texas that require Photo ID to vote. This issue has a lot of room to grow as a ballot initiative, especially in battleground states where the legislature may not pass this type of legislation. One neutralizing proposition the left (or Democrats) could propose is one that passed tonight in Maine – same day voter registration. There is no excuse why voters can not walk into any voting booth on election day in their state and cast a ballot.

Texans voted on 10 Constitutional Amendments last night and showed little support for anything that sounded like an expansion of government.

Prop 1: Prop 1 Tax exemption for surviving spouse of veteran passed favorably with 82%. Not surprising Texas has a lot of veterans and a strong history of supporting the military.

Prop 3: Issue bonds to finance education loans to students passed less favorably with 55%. Interesting since student loan debt has become an issue with the Occupy Wall St. movement.

Prop 4: Prop 4 Permit county to issue bonds for development Rejected with 57%. Texans voting to reject government spending, even for development.

Prop 6: Prop 6 Gen Land Office distribute revenue for public education pass favorably with 60%. Texans vote shows they value education but their legislators have not found a way to properly fund it.

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Anita Perry: Window to Camp Perry?

Anita Perry could give strong insight into the unpreparedness of Rick Perry’s Presidential campaign.  Recently she spoke in South Carolina in an emotional monologue about the relationship with her husband, their life in small town Texas and answering God’s call to run for President.

She expressed her dismay of the attacks by the media and his GOP rivals on her husband. Her honesty revealed the degree to which it was unexpected. This could be endemic to the Perry campaign. It follows the narrative that Rick Perry was not fully primed for the national stage.

It’s been a rough month. We have been brutalized and beaten up and chewed up in the press to where I need this today. We are being brutalized by our opponents, and our own party. So much of that is, I think, they look at him because of his faith. He is the only true conservative – well, there are some true conservatives. And they’re there for good reasons. And they may feel like God called them too. But I truly feel like we are here for that purpose.

More than 70% of Americans identify as Christian and that includes his rivals for President but there is serious risk as the nominee if he is viewed as basing his tough decisions on messages from God.  She insisted that he would have never written “FED Up” if he planned on running for President but that, “he truly felt like he was called to do this”.

Typically spouses are left to their privacy until they start speaking out in public. In most cases its better that they don’t given the emotional and personal nature of politics. Just ask Carl Lewis.

Video of Anita Perry’s entire monologue.

Not so smooth…like Keystone XL

“It’s not the easiest thing on Earth for law-abiding folk to come to risk arrest,” –Bill McKibben Environmentalist/protest organizer

Born and raised in Southeast Texas I can attest that a new pipeline is hardly worthy of a headline. This is different, and even with a notable amount of national media attention it is still proving difficult to get the message across. I started on this campaign over a year ago when the State Dept. began holding hearings along the route of the pipeline. At the time several significant issues were brought to their attention including; strip mining in Alberta, chemical leaks to downstream communities, the proposed route’s passage over the Ogallala aquifer, the discrepancies between proposed job creation numbers and ultimately the impact on citizens living near refining sites like Port Arthur.
Continue reading “Not so smooth…like Keystone XL”

That First Step – Citizens REunited

I’ve been wanting to restart my blog again for a while now. Many factors have led to my procrastination not excluding the hours berating pundits on cable news.

I think my point of view is fair and balanced but not just because I say it is. I do my best to site my sources but the biggest obstacle in writing more is the research involved. I will try and keep my posts focused and short.

My main motivation for writing is the void of reasonable voices in popular media. I hear them among friends and in public so I know they are out there. I see ideological bubbles forming even though American’s have more access to information than any other point in history. Today our ability to seek out content that merely reinforces our own prejudices and preconceived notions is disturbing. Its a trend that goes past our instincts to group ourselves but is in fact part of the algorithms used by Google and Facebook to “suggest” content to you. Ultimately this limits choice (aka freedom) and is largely unrepresentative of the diversity of ideas in the market place.

I think buzz words are important and as long as Democrats, liberals, progressives et. al. choose policy explanations over soundbites, Republicans’ message will continue to be effective. As a friend said, if we are explaining we are losing. We must find a constructive way to fight the scorched earth policy towards institutions that represent human progress and personify “we the people”. Democrats will never win as the “anti-government” party and until they remind folks of what good government has done you can bet it all on red.

I’m proud of the fact that I frequently come to agreeable solutions with conservatives because we are generally given false choices that force us to take opposing sides on non-issues.  Non-compromising liberals and conservatives feed the gridlock and prevent government from actually being an aset to the people.

Our challenge now is to define the role of government and cut out the rest. The real tyrant we face is corporate money in our elections. Corporations are not immoral but they are amoral and do not represent real human interest. The government has been a defenseless whipping boy in our recent political discussions regarding “class warfare”.

The Supreme Court was supremely wrong in Citizens United when they decided to treat companies like people. Just know when you hear its beneficiaries say “private sector” they really mean “big business” and when they say “government” they really mean “the people”. So start listening closely because this is an all out battle for the hearts, minds and the soul of our nation.

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