Sunday, February 10, 2008

Senator Kruse Speaks Against Referendums

Today's JG has an article from Niki Kelly about referendums and how they have become a controversial point in this legislative session. I want to point out that referendums are not an affront to representative democracy; when used properly they merely give the people a direct voice in those issues that are most critical to them. The governor gets this difference:

Daniels certainly doesn’t want Indiana to become like California, where voters sometimes have to trudge through 100 pages of ballot initiatives on numerous public policies when they cast a ballot.

“That is not a system I would recommend in Indiana. Most of those things I believe should be taken care of in the people’s house,” he said.

But Daniels believes there are some local decisions that voters should have more direct involvement in, such as building a new school or library.

Of course state Senator Dennis Kruse believes people should NOT have a say outside of the normal voting process.

“I’m a strong proponent of the republic. I do not like the referendums and don’t think we should have them,” he said. “We were elected to make decisions. To me, we are shunning our responsibility when we want to shove it off on public opinion.”

Kruse said it is “dangerous” to have the masses vote on some issues.

“Everyone can’t be informed like elected representatives are. We spend months and months on issues, talking to all the interested parties,” Kruse said. “The regular person can’t do that.”

Here we have yet another elitist telling us he's vastly more informed than us lowly citizens. And the very idea of the citizenry voting on important matters is somehow "dangerous". I mean how could we possibly know whether or not we can afford more taxes or need another school? These decisions are clearly beyond the mental capacity of us plebian lowlifes.

And yet despite all of his hollow objections Kruse still voted for referendums. Was he for them before he was against them? He's also the sponsor of a bill to ban cell phones from automobiles because he got into a wreck while fumbling with his own phone. Perhaps the voters of Auburn will wise up and send this guy packing but until then at least voters can use the referendum to protect us from out-of-touch politicians like Kruse...


Evan Ravitz said...

I'm not familiar with Indiana politics, but a great deal of what "informs" reps is the money and desires of lobbyists.

Reps need competition in a "free marketplace of ideas" which is what ballot initiatives and referenda give them. In Switzerland, they've had NATIONAL ballot initiatives for 160 years and their country runs "like a Swiss watch" with no huge deficits, wars, torture, etc.

The best project for better and national ballot initiatives is headed by Sen. Mike Gravel. YOU can vote to ratify it at, much as citizens ratified the Constitution at the Conventions!

Code Blue Schools said...

With all knowing, all seeing politicians like Senator Kruse, how did we end up with a property tax crisis?

Phil Marx said...

Sen. Kruse makes a fair point about the specialization of knowledge. But Even makes an equally strong counter point in that they (politicians) are also in a better position to be be influenced by financial incentives.

As for any politician that says "How dare you accuse me of being corrupt?", I would respond with "How dare you accuse me of being ignorant?"

Hopefully his constituents hear what he's saying and remind him that being a Representative is a privelage by recalling him on the next election.

Jeff Pruitt said...

Just out of curiosity what is Senator Kruse's "specialization of knowledge"?

The whole process is so politicized I'm not sure these guys even think about something before they vote for it. If the party leadership wants it then so be it.

I think the average citizen that follows politics knows just as much...

Robert Enders said...

Kruse's district runs through Ft Wayne as well. I was in his district when I lived on Chestnut St. So there are some probably people reading this who can vote against him this year.

Last year's election showed that people will support a candidate and yet oppose the projects that the candidate supports. I now think that the referendum would be a good way for people to be able to elect the leaders that they want without the spending that they don't want.

To compare the proposed referendum measures with the mess in Califoria is unfair. In California, voters are asked to vote for or against measures that they do not understand or care about. But referenda on spending measures would not present an intellelectual burden for Hoosier voters. By the time you turn 18, you already understand what a bridge, school, or stadium is; and you probably have an informed opinion on whether or not the city or county should spend more money on those kinds of projects.

Andrew Kaduk said...

In Ohio, the entire verbiage of the Bill must be available at the ballot box.

I have to admit, as an ex-Buckeye voter, I can honestly say that some of the procedural jargon through which you must trudge in order to cast an informed vote is tedious at best, downright cruel to the lesser-educated at worst.

Now, I am going to absolutely posture against Kruse here because his elitist motivations are absolutely the WRONG reason to argue the downfalls of referendum I'll simply say that there may, in fact, be acceptable reasons to deny the public a 1 for 1 vote on some of these topics...but Kruse's interest probably isn't represented by those "good" reasons.

If Kruse weren't so transparent in his motivations, he could have made the argument that a Republic is designed to keep the will of the majority from trampling the rights of the minority.

I'm not sure anybody would believe that argument coming from him, though.

Phil Marx said...

By "specialization of knowledge", I am talking about pure textbook economics. Each citizen has to consider national, state and local issues. In addition to this, most have to make time for this along with their busy work schedules.

A politician is different first, in that the area of focus is more specific. In addition to this, they don't have to balance it with work - because they are being paid a salary to study the issues.

Basically, the politician has less subject matter to study and more time to do so than the average citizen. Adam smith would call this efficiency.

Above I implied that this was equally countered by the politicians propensity towards corruption. I'll restate that to say I think the corruption usually overcomes the educated opinion.

I still think most politicians know more about the specific issues that they are focused on than the average citizen does. But I also think most politicians are more swayed by the money than by the facts of the issue.

Either way, I think Kruse is wrong!

Andrew Kaduk said...

Harumph! Harumph!