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The Sweeping Mandates Of Low Turnout

Reverend Michael S. Piazza (presumably not related to the New York Mets catcher), president of Dallas-based Hope for Peace & Justice, said today, "Ninety-two percent of all Texans either voted against Constitutional Amendment Two [gay marriage ban] or didn't vote at all."

No, no, no, no... Democrats (make no mistake Piazza's organization are partisan Democrats) can't have it both ways. Either victories in the Governors races in Virginia and New Jersey (governorships they already occupied) are a sign of some heretofore unnoticed Democratic renaissance or they're not. Where ballot referendums dealing with redistricting (sponsored by Republicans) in California were roundly rejected, those in Ohio (sponsored by Democrats) were also massively rejected.

If guys like Piazza are going to claim that a ballot proposition loss of massive proportions on a hot button issue like gay marriage is somehow not a victory because the voice of the silent majority was not heard, well that's just going to confuse everyone. While exposing the "man behind the curtain" of off year state and local elections [hint: low voter turnout], might be technically correct it does damper the celebrations of those who win. Don't think that 36 vote victories (out of 1,742 votes cast) are all that uncommon in off year elections. What races like that say about national politics is the great unknown. I suggest that by this time next year they will say very little.

Piazza's complaints are not unlike those about the Indianapolis Colts 8-0 record. Until last week the Colts had played a schedule filled mostly with cream puffs, but in their defense they could only play (and beat) the teams on their schedule. They played the hand that was dealt them - just like the people and propositions on this years ballot did.

Update: Minor grammatical errors corrected.


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Comments (14)

Being a season ticket holde... (Below threshold)
JD:

Being a season ticket holder for my beloved Indianapolis Colts, it was nice to give back a little to New England on Monday night, even if it was just a regular season game. Fortunately, NE will be playing in our house during the playoffs.

In regards to the actual topic of the post, the Dems were able to retain a couple of Governorships that they already held, and they believe this to be some huge surge of momentum? I guess when your expectations are that low ...

There is some justice to th... (Below threshold)

There is some justice to the claim that a proposition is in fact democratic when most of the people eligible didn't even register their vote on it.

The idea that off-year special elections where a majority of the perpetually apathetic voters can enact changes to a state Constitution by simple majority vote (as is true in California, and perhaps Texas too) seems entirely antithetical to the visoin for a constitutional republic that the Framers had in mind.

I'd think that the threshold for constitutional change should be much higher than that; say, something like 2/3 of the registered voters for 2 consecutive elections.

And I have some difficulty in thinking that amendment by proposition is all that good an idea. The general electorate aren't lawyers, and aren't all that well informed as to the ramifications of these propositions, nor are they accountable for the effects of such. They don't have to balance a budget, keep the state out of bankruptcy, etc. They need do no balancing, no listening to competing interests and constituents, etc. Just a simple "yes" or "no" inside that voting booth, and to hell with the consequences.

Cheers,

Mmmm...Peyton...I'm sorry, ... (Below threshold)
Mary Katharine:

Mmmm...Peyton...I'm sorry, what were we talking about?

There will be no "Democrati... (Below threshold)
mantis:

There will be no "Democratic renaissance" unless they get off their asses and come up with a unified and consistent platform of policy objectives. Of course they're Democrats, so they won't.

If a voter chooses not to v... (Below threshold)
mcg:

If a voter chooses not to vote, tough. They automatically register their vote with the majority, and that's the way it goes.

I can understand the reasoning behind Arne's sentiment to make constitutional amendments hard to pass, though. I don't think the bar needs to be set quite as high as he's setting it, but I do like the idea of requiring a quorum of registered voters. I think I'd basically set the bar high enough to discourage the use of special elections, forcing them to rely primarily on the higher-turnout gubernatorial or presidential elections.

But let's also keep in mind that it's not necessarily true that low voter turnout makes an initiative easy to pass. California's failed initiatives are clear indication of this. And not all of them, I might add, were classic conservative issues: initiatives to institute prescription drug programs and re-regulate the electric industry were also rejected.

It's due to the DNC's offic... (Below threshold)
-S-:

It's due to the DNC's official statement from last night, as to "...Sweeping Victories" or something similar...I'll go include a Trackback because I wrote on my own blog about it, with link, among ~other things~ there.

It's just blustery, the flourishing language, just blustery: "we big, bad Democrats have pummeled you puny Republicans" sorta stuff.

@ Arne Langsetmo: "The gene... (Below threshold)
JDF:

@ Arne Langsetmo: "The general electorate aren't lawyers, and aren't all that well informed as to the ramifications of these propositions, nor are they accountable for the effects of such."

Indeed. Government would be much more...efficient...if we didn't consult the general electorate at all. Your belief is widely held and heralds an end to the great experiment of democracy.

Hey,Everone thinks t... (Below threshold)
Lew Clark:

Hey,
Everone thinks the "gay marriage thingie" was the big vote in Texas. Not true. The biggie was that the citizens of White Settlement voted 9-1 to keep the name instead of changing it to "West Settlement", under pressure from the PC crowd. Undaunted the PC crowd are going after the communities of White City, White Deer, White Hall, White Mound, White Oak, White Rock, Whiteface, Whiteflat, Whitehead, Whitehouse, Whitely, and Whitesboro, in 2006.

Of course the vote is meaningless until the NCAA makes it's decision.

JD said: "...the Dems we... (Below threshold)

JD said: "...the Dems were able to retain a couple of Governorships that they already held, and they believe this to be some huge surge of momentum?"

Why yes! Just a few months ago a close-loss was a win, so naturally, if they actually keep a couple posts, it's HUGE. HUGE, I tell you.

er, I think.

Your point is well-taken, b... (Below threshold)

Your point is well-taken, but there are three apparent errors in the first sentence of your third paragraph.

If guy's like Piazza are going to claim that a ballot proposition loss of massive proportions on a hot button issues like gay marriage is somehow not a victory because the voice of the silent majority was not, well that's just going to confuse everyone.

(1)The apostrophe isn't needed in "guy's," as the word is a plural noun, not a possessive adjective.

(2) You should bridge "hot" and "button" with a hyphen, as it's two words acting as a single adjective.

(3)There appears to be a missing word after "silent majority was not." Was not what? was not heard?

Forgive a bored editor here, who nonetheless thinks you have something worth reading here.

I suppose I am a weird pers... (Below threshold)

I suppose I am a weird person, since I think that people are basically evil and/or stupid but that they should have the right to decide for themselves what to do. That being the case, I have no pity for people who bitch about a referendum being passed when they didn't vote. If only 20% of the population decides to vote (I'm just arbitrarily picking a number here), too bad. People are responsible for their own (in)actions. Democracy means people have the right NOT to vote as much as they have the right TO vote.

I don't think it should be made any more difficult to pass a constitutional amendment via referendum than it already is. Heck, my state (PA) doesn't even use that system, and I wish it did. If people are too lazy or apathetic to go vote, then they deserve what they get.

Just my $0.02.

To state the obvious, I can... (Below threshold)
-S-:

To state the obvious, I cannot resist a comment as to what Edgy DC, the bored editor, wrote:

"...Forgive a bored editor here, who nonetheless thinks you have something worth reading here."

You repeated (needlessly, in both instances), the word, "here" there. Ha, it's Wizbang, and 'nary a slipup gets past most of us regulars.

~;-D

Re: Edgy DC's paragraph edi... (Below threshold)
arb:

Re: Edgy DC's paragraph edits

Not to mention "a hot button issues like gay marriage..."

Either lose the 's' after issue, or lose the 'a' before "hot button."

We really have to get out more. :-}

While SilverBubble pretty m... (Below threshold)

While SilverBubble pretty much said it all;

"If people are too lazy or apathetic to go vote, then they deserve what they get."

I can't help but get confused about how in my state (Ca) this party can't even raise an electorate to embellish permitting a minor to inform her parent that she is contemplating an abortion.

Barring the ramafications of the full spectrum of this debate, my question is "where is the "family unit" that keeps us together, thru good times and bad."

Someone explain to me why it would not be a "good thing" to explain why a "living" question can't be shared with family. Or why we wouldn't.

On a lighter note: Always hated "passionatly" any east coast football team. But YA Tittle was one of my heros. So, Go Colts!




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