Initiative 960 is an undemocratic idea

When students across America begin a high school civics course, one of the first lessons they learn is how a democracy (and specifically, our American republic) works.

All true democracies share a common characteristic – they have governments that derive their power from the just consent of the governed. The people are recognized as the supreme source of political power, and through a free electoral system, all eligible citizens vote to select leaders to make, enforce, and interpret laws.

In both the electoral process itself and the bodies created by the electoral process (such as our state Legislature) the will or preference of the majority normally determines the outcome. This is known as majority rule – and in many dictionaries it is in fact considered to be an acceptable definition for democracy itself.

Majority rule with minority rights is a cherished tradition in our republic – a tradition that Tim Eyman’s Initiative 960 would severely harm.

I-960, if passed, would require a two-thirds vote in the Legislature for any bill that increases revenue. Very simply, I-960 would give a small group of lawmakers control over significant fiscal decisions that impact our communities.

I-960 endangers our decision making process and contradicts the rule of law established by our state’s Constitution. It purposefully makes it difficult for the Legislature to agree on appropriations for valuable and critical public services that make our quality of life possible.

I-960 is unsound policy explicitly designed to allow a minority to thwart or circumvent the will of the majority.

I-960 is the latest recycled gimmick from a militant libertarian who has relentlessly attacked our government and our elected officials for nearly ten years, waging campaigns to eliminate money for transportation infrastructure, public schools, first responders, parks, pools, and libraries.

Not surprisingly, Initiative 960 is not a new idea. It is a do-over of Initiative 807, Eyman’s 2003 initiative, which failed to make the ballot despite Eyman’s claim that it would be “wildly popular” – which it obviously wasn’t.

I-960 is made possible through the generous financial support of a wealthy Woodinville millionaire, Michael Dunmire. Dunmire has supplied all of the money that Tim Eyman has spent so far to hire signature gatherers to circulate petitions for I-960 – a total of $350,000, with more checks likely on the way to swell Eyman’s coffers.

I-960 is the latest vehicle propping up an unaccountable cottage industry that is afraid of sunlight and transparency – the signature gathering business.

Eyman and his cohorts – the proponents of this poorly conceived scheme – have never been in favor of a serious, honest discussion about taxation and budgeting. They prefer lies and myths that will prompt Washingtonians to embrace their unwelcome initiatives.

Fortunately, they have suffered a string of serious setbacks in recent years. Failed measures include I-264, I-807, I-864, I-892, I-917, and R-65. Courts have partially or wholly invalidated I-776 and I-747.

Eyman’s reputation among his own flock degenerated further last year when he accused state officials of misplacing phantom signatures for I-917 or allowing them to be “pilfered” by unnamed mystery opponents.

Five years ago, he made it clear that he could not be trusted when he admitted that he pocketed hundreds of thousands of donor dollars for his own personal use and then lied about it – to his own supporters, to the press, and the public.

But Eyman still expects to be treated as an authoritative expert on fiscal policy – which he is not. His behavior over the years promoting one bad act after another has been shameful and inexcusable. And the initiatives themselves continue to be awful. I-960 is an undemocratic right wing idea and a threat to representative democracy.

Fortunately, I-960 can be easily sent back to the dustbin from which it came with three simple words from the people of Washington State: No thank you.

Decline to sign I-960 – protect our republic and our cherished tradition of majority rule.

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