Tuesday, 28 June 2016

The Problem with Referendums

After last week's episode with the BREXIT referendum.....one might sit down and ask if public referendums are a safe and reasonable measure for public government and the survival of a republic.

Americans get a bare taste of referendums every couple of years via their county and state.  There will be some minor effort to reform some law.....allowing a tax to increase, or establishing some limit on school spending, or allow teacher's salaries to increase.  It's a minimal effort type referendum and saves the state legislature from getting into the middle of some mess.  But these are all carefully worded and allows just a marginal bit of participation by the public.

For example, if you went to the public in Alabama, and asked about "drying-out" the state (forbidding all alcohol sales and consumption).....it'd actually around forty to fifty percent of the voters who would vote for "dry".  Naturally, you can't allow this type of referendum to go forward and allow the potential dry situation to occur in the state.

Another example, if you went to the public in California and asked to make meth a legal substance to sell to the public.....I'd take a guess that 35-percent of the public would vote for this.  Maybe with a bit of effort, they might even get close to 45-percent.  This should scare most people but this is one of the problems with referendums.

In the Air Force, I was at a base where they allowed some guy to perform a poll around 1979, and the poll said that Air Force members on the base preferred to have more time off.....rather than a pay-raise of 5-percent.  That shocked the leadership so much, that they recalled all the copies of the publication and poll.....because they were all pumped up for the pay-raise instead.

I suspect if you offered up a referendum across all fifty states.....to disestablish the US federal government.....down to just a Congress, with no senate and no president....there might actually be enough people to get the referendum to 50-percent.

If you offered up a referendum to all fifty states to terminate the IRS and just go with a flat-tax.....that might pass with 60-percent of the national vote.

If you offered up a referendum to ban US senators from joy-riding outside the US, that might actually get 70-percent of the national vote.

If you offered up a all-drugs-legalized (to include crack and meth) in Baltimore....it'd likely pass with 50-plus-percent of the city residents.

So, here's the honest truth.....you just can't run a republic where referendums are a major part of our government's daily process.  You could end up with five counties in the state of South Carolina who want to exit the state, and create Southwest Carolina.  Or you might end up with the city of Chicago voting overwhelmingly to make their own state out of thin air.

No comments: