Note — The following column was published in today's edition of The Morning Sun.
It has been a few days since petitions were submitted to qualify statewide ballot questions for November’s general election. Unless something is rejected by the courts (there are pending challenges), Michiganders will vote on seven measures.
The special interest groups, who carry too much weight in the halls of government, are already out in force and making their voices heard.
One group, Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution, is standing front and center in opposition. They claim the ballot questions, which include six proposed constitutional amendments, are confusing, poorly worded, overtly partisan and generally against the better interests of everyday taxpayers, working families and main street businesses.
On top of that, the two high-profile ballot questions — both constitutional amendments written in a smoke-filled backroom by union bosses — seek to re-hash the results of the 2010 election, when then-gubernatorial candidate Rick Snyder and other Republican candidates won an overwhelmingly mandate to open Michigan to all innovators and job creators.
In that very same election Michiganders voted on Proposal 1, which, had it passed, would have convened a state constitutional convention. (For full disclosure, I was the co-chairman of Yes on Proposal 1.)
At the time, Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution, which included a political odd couple of union bosses and right-to-work advocates, opposed Proposal 1. These political grandees claimed among other things that passage would allow “politically charged” special interests to hijack the Constitution. They also said businesses and job-creators would face “more uncertainly and anxiety.”
Now everything Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution predicted two years ago will occur over the coming weeks and months with millions of dollars spent on the air, in the pages of this newspaper and at doorstep of homes across Michigan.
Because this is a nightmarish scenario for special interests, it is safe to say a battle royal will occur between each question’s “yes” and “no” campaigns and their allies.
Modern campaigns can control much of what happens on the husting circuit. The one thing that eludes politicos is the individual voter, who still must be courted, swayed, influenced and ultimately motivated to turnout and cast a ballot.
Yet this simple truth remains true: Nothing involving elections is ever for certain; let alone in this age of voter distrust. This means almost anything could happen in November.
Unlike many of my peers, I do not distrust the people. Rather, I hold the people in high reverence.
Sure, I have disagreed with their collective decisions over the years, but I have never once disrespected the people’s wisdom on the affairs of their government.
After all, the people are the republic’s fount. They exercise the sovereign authority that legitimizes the government’s authority.
Unfortunately, the only time special interests care about the people is when they are manipulating the system to get their agenda on the ballot and enshrined in the state Constitution.
Thankfully, the people are smarter than the political grandees think.
— Dennis Lennox