by: Tony Suh

The workhorse is hobbled. Asked to plow a field and yield harvests that no 3 oxen could ever do. The current workhorse CA Legislature has 3 short of a 2/3 Democratic majority in the Senate and similarly in the Assembly. It takes 2/3 of the legislators of each branch to adopt a budget or to raise taxes. The Legislature failed to yield the harvest of miracles. The media (failing to educate the public in favor of simplistic / popular claims), the political parties (wishing to duck voters’ wrath) and voters (willingly led by the media, their political parties and by corporate interests that finance most voter drives and ads) claimed that THE LEGISLATURE FAILED! But, WE hobbled the workhorse Legislature.

But, it is we (legislators, media, monied interests, political pundits and, most of all, we, the voters) who failed. Most of all, the Republican legislators failed. They, in lock-step, said NO Taxes – no matter what. They came up with no alternatives to a cuts-only budget. Yet, they lacked the courage to identify specifically what and how much they would cut. Nearly everyone let them get away with such irresponsible behavior without publically and loudly calling them to task. Very few had the guts to directly identify the culprit Republicans. Instead, the media, the general public, even Democrats blamed the Legislature and “politiciansâ€? as a whole, not the 14 Republicans in the Assembly and 28 in the Senate who created our current catastrophe – the dimensions of which are being detailed now and in the coming weeks and months. The resulting mess will, in turn, drag California much further into the Recession and make it more unattractive to newcomers and investors everywhere in the years ahead. Likely, nearly all will, again, blame the easy but wrong targets: the Legislature and “politiciansâ€?.

Rather than taking responsibility to assure that the powers invested to our representatives is exercised to maintain those things we cherish well into the future for ourselves and future generations; we have hobbled them and trashed our State Constitution by our too-easy citizen initiatives. Our Propositions have been overtaken with emotionally-charged irritations of the moment that have been cast into the long future – including Proposition 13, 2/3 legislative vote requirement to adopt a budget, term limits and the newly passed Prop 1F (the latter 2 only diminishes the viability of our legislature to attract the “best and brightestâ€?). Successful constitutional initiatives cannot be overturned by the Legislature alone; they have to be amended by another vote of the voters – another proposition. Our state government has become the results of temper tantrums of our past and present. We have enfeebled our elected government representatives. We now have to reap what we have sown. We have representative democracy because citizen plebiscite government is too capricious and to easy to manipulate. With representative government, we can always vote them out.

Digging out of the current morass will take careful deliberations with long-range perspectives – and, no more “quick fixesâ€?. We will need to find ways to not sow anymore of our own bitter harvests that we now face and will for too long.