The painful irony of using majority rule to eliminate majority rule.
As friends and families across our state enjoy the relaxing blessings of summer, professional initiative promoter Tim Eyman today introduces I-1185, to reaffirm supermajority domination over state government.
Two days ago we celebrated our nation’s independence from the tyranny of the minority rule. Forty eight hours later it is humiliating to think how Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton would be revolted by this initiative’s VOLUNTARY retreat from majority rule back to minority domination that fueled the Revolutionary War itself.
Regardless of your politics, where in our state you live, or even your values about state government, I ask the public to see that this initiative brings serious, structural harm not to taxes or spending but to the foundational values of democracy. It’s intentional and it carries with it profoundly disingenuous implications.
Even if Washington had the highest taxes in the nation–and even if 100% of taxes were dedicated to funding the state’s paramount duty of public education–and even if state government was the smallest and most efficient organization in the nation–supermajority rules would still be undemocratic, unfair and a shameful rejection of the principle of majority rule with minority protections. It would still empower tyranny of the minority. It would still open the door to subtle political corruption. It would do nothing to lower taxes or improve service for the public because it is a straight jacket of undemocratic inequity. Seventeen state senators rule where 147 legislators once stood. I plead with the once-proud Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln to see that their anti-tax sentiment is becoming a god of assaulting the grand experiment in democracy known as majority rules.
Supermajority rule does not empower democracy, lower taxes or limit government. It emboldens the institutional grip of the status quo. It makes government work less efficiently and effectively because the arrogance of the tyrannical minority assumes control over deliberation and debate, dialogue and compromise.
The legitimate frustration behind people’s willingness to sign a supermajority petition is understandable on the surface. All power in our democracy ultimately rests with the people, and there is value in a finely balanced interaction between direct and representative democracy that honors that critical constitutional reality. Too often the arrogance of those in government presumes to go well beyond the consent of the governed. For example, the Commerce Clause in the U.S. Constitution was not meant to effectively super impose its will as if breathing on its own. If the people so choose to modify our system of government by rewriting our constitution, they have that right as Thomas Jefferson so eloquently reminds us.
However, here at home, using direct democracy and simple majority rule to eviscerate representative democracy and impose supermajorities is a violation of our Founding Fathers’ core values.
It is a painful irony that Mr. Eyman proposes to use majority rule of the people to eliminate majority rule of the people’s own voices, and yet so many patriots do not see the assault from within.
We’re better than this as a state and as a nation.
We are so much more than what we’ve become.
Your partner in service,