2012-04-19 / Columns

Even a fifth grader could answer ballot questions

By
Tim Skubick

There is so much to be proud of in this state but informed voters is not one of them. Regretfully in the aggregate, many voters vote their gut and not their head, they are lazy about boning up on the candidates and at the end of the day those gawd-awful political commercials sway more voters than anything else because we pay attention to them.

You want proof of our sorry record? Term limits for openers.

That was a pure emotional vote designed to send Lansing a message, but now 20 years after the fact many voters have wised up and are expressing buyer’s remorse although the majority still favor this law. Or try this one for size. Last year, hundreds of socalled smart voters were asked to list the two candidates running for Secretary of State. The vast majority could not and some even listed Richard Austin who indeed was Secretary of State ... before he died over thirty years ago.

Maybe the voters missed the obit. When it was in the paper?

Which brings us to the raft of issues that may be on the November ballot for everyone to decide. If ever there was an opportunity to demonstrate our collective ignorance this is it.

Some of the questions, even a fifth grader could figure out. But this one will be decided on pure emotions if they get enough names to win a ballot spot.

You can hear the law enforcement types, led again by ace-crime fighter and State Attorney General Bill Schuette: Grass is a gateway drug which will hook your kids into doing crack, smack, and who knows what else? The crime rate will skyrocket and on an on it will go. The other side will be equally emotional as they trot out the old standard, grass is a harmless drug that will actually help the state get out of debt if they tax it correctly They will point to the generation of “smokers” during the Hippie Movement who got high on grass and went on to land responsible jobs in high places.

Suffice it to say the “facts” will not get in the way of this debate. There are 11 other possible ballot questions floating around out there and many will fall by the wayside so lazy voters won’t have to be concerned about “studying” them.

In this category, the recall of Gov. Rick Snyder. Nice try anti-Snyder folks and thanks for being active but save your breath.

You could safely put some money on the well financed effort to create even more casinos in the state. Voters, in a rare moment of intelligence, decided to build tougher requirements into the law for building more. This drive would undo that and open the flood gates to more gambling joints from Detroit to you name it and with lots of high rollers behind it, they could well get the required signatures to give this another shot.

Organized labor has the person power to get enough names to guarantee collective bargaining rights in the state constitution. This one will move the “scream-meter” off the charts as business and labor battle this one out in a life and death fight. The facts will be few and far between on this puppy and with so much at stake, it’s a safe bet that both sides will distort the “truth” beyond recognition and the unsuspecting voters will be sucked in unless they do their due diligence, which, of course, they won’t.

Then there is the so-called energy issue pushed by the Greens and strongly opposed by the utility lobby. The question is whether to make Michigan less dependent on traditional sources of energy and boost the percent of reliance on alternative forms. Not sure this one will make it to the ballot, but it’s complicated with far-reaching implications which means our electorate may not be up to the task of deciding what to do.

Let’s do a little self-confession. We are well versed on what is happening to the Detroit Tigers and the Wings, but on the political front we are too busy, too turned-off and of the mind that our votes do not count anyway so why devote any intellectual energy to it.

Adopt this attitude at your own risk, because by doing so you allow those on the far-right and far-left to hi-jack the democracy. They will get involved, they will study the candidates and the issues and they will not make a decision based on what the candidate commercials suggest.

Perhaps the best we can hope for is that none of these knotty questions gets on the November ballot. Then you don’t have to feel guilty about not being an active participant in the election process.

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