There comes a time when our means of attaining self-government needs to be re-examined. Such is the case with our method of determining initiatives. I received the latest General Election Guide for the Nov. 6 election. Eleven propositions, described in about 130 pages of text, roughly 80,000 words — perhaps a little longer than Hemingway’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” OK, perhaps some may find it enjoyable reading, but I doubt that more than 10 percent of the electorate actually reads the propositions in their entirety and, of those, likely less than 1 percent actually understands what the writers (mostly attorneys) are actually saying.
So, maybe 1 in 1,000 voters read all of the propositions and actually understand the entire text. That’s not a reasonable way to govern ourselves. I propose that all initiatives be limited to 500 words maximum length and be written in a manner that at least 80 percent of us can understand. Then let the Legislature write the detailed language that implements each approved initiative. That’s why we pay them the big bucks. Let’s stop fooling ourselves into believing that our current initiative system is a valid method of good decision-making.
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