It’s election time in Washington State, and apparently local environmental activists are split on whether Proposition-1, which would allocate a lot of money for roads and transit systems, will reduce global warming (link). My primary question is: Why on earth is this sort of thing being referred to voters? Isn’t this the sort of thing we pay our representatives for? Voters in general, myself included, are not in a position to intelligently evaluate this sort of complex proposition.
A huge surplus of propositions, referenda and initiatives seems to be a perennial problem for Washington State. I’m with State Sen. Ken Jacobsen in wanting to get rid of the referendum and initiative process. Unfortunately, I doubt our state will get rid of the process any time soon, because the amendment to the state constitution to eliminate the processes would itself have to be passed by voters, and the emotional arguments against such an amendment are far easier to make than the arguments for one. Arguing that such an amendment would be “a rather draconian effort to insulate politicians from the people” is simpler and more emotionally appealing than arguing that voters are hardly ever in a position to intelligently evaluate complex policy options.