Frustrated with several of the policies being implemented by the Republican politicians who hold power in Missouri, the voters of Missouri took action and gathered enough signatures to get multiple referendums on 2018’s November ballot.
Proposition A was a ballot referendum to allow voters to decide on whether or the “right to work” law (which can more accurately be described as the “right to exploit workers”) that had been passed by Missouri Republicans would go into effect. Voters chose by a 35 point margin to reject the Missouri GOP’s “right to work” law.
Proposition B was a ballot referendum to raise the minimum wage to $12/hour by the year 2023, then mandate ongoing increases that will be linked to inflation. Voters approved of this referendum by a 24 point margin.
Amendment 1 was a ballot referendum to limit lobbyist gifts to lawmakers, subject lawmakers to open-records laws, and create a non-partisan commission to draw legislative district lines in order to prevent gerrymandering. Voters approved of this ballot referendum by a 24 point margin.
Amendment 2 was one of three Amendments (along with Amendment 3 and Proposition C) offered to legalize marijuana for medical purposes. Voters selected Amendment 2 as the best choice (it included a mandate that tax revenue be spent on veterans’ health services) and approved of the ballot referendum by a 31 point margin.
The Missouri GOP opposed all of these referendums.
Medical marijuana would provide competition for drugs marketed by pharmaceutical companies, and a higher minimum wage would increase corporate expenses. Rejecting the “right to work” law would mean corporations would not be able to destroy unions so they could exploit workers. Of course, the Missouri GOP didn’t care about the effects these referendums would have on actual people. They were concerned about their effects on corporate profits instead.
An independent redistricting commission would prevent the Missouri GOP from gerrymandering districts. Limiting lobbyist gifts to lawmakers and subjecting lawmakers to open-records laws would make it more difficult for politicians to have their campaigns funded by corporations. So, the Missouri GOP also did not like that referendum because it could damage the GOP’s ability to cheat to maintain their power through gerrymandering and corporate campaign donations. Never mind that we live in a democracy.
However, the voters approved of all of them, so the GOP will just need to abide by the voters’ wishes, right? That’s not how the GOP rolls, apparently.
The current Republican Governor of Missouri, Mike Parson, wants to repeal the referendum that was approved by Missouri voters, by a 24 point margin, to limit lobbyist gifts and create a non-partisan commission to draw legislative district lines:
Now eight years later as governor, Parson believes a similar repeal-and-replace effort is necessary for a new voter-approved constitutional amendment revising the way Missouri’s legislative districts are drawn. Beyond that, Parson said in an interview with The Associated Press, it may also be time to raise the bar for initiative petitions to appear on the ballot.
The governor, a Republican, acknowledges that neither of those things may sound good to voters.
“Fundamentally, you think when the people vote you shouldn’t be changing that vote,” Parson said. “But the reality of it is that is somewhat what your job is sometimes, if you know something’s unconstitutional, if you know some of it’s not right.”
If that isn’t bad enough, one of the Governor’s GOP allies in the state legislature implied that the voters of Missouri are just too stupid to understand what they were voting on:
“I think the initiative petition itself, there’s a lot more to it than what the standard person can understand,” said state Sen. Dave Schatz, a Republican whom colleagues nominated as the next Senate president pro tem. “I think we’re going to have to get some legal opinions on truly the effects of what Clean Missouri really does.”
To top it all off, the Missouri GOP appears intent on making sure the voters of Missouri aren’t able to have their voices heard through ballot referendums ever again:
Parson told the AP this past week that broader changes might be needed to slow the proliferation of citizen ballot initiatives, which he said were used by individuals and groups “with deep pockets” who “have their own agendas that they’re wanting to push.”
To qualify a proposed statute for the ballot, supporters must gather signatures equal to 5 percent of the votes cast in the previous gubernatorial election in six of the state’s eight congressional districts. For proposed constitutional amendments, that threshold is 8 percent. Initiative supporters write their own measures; the secretary of state prepares a summary that appears on petitions and ballots.
“The bar should be a little higher for how you do one, and I think there definitely should be streamlining in how the language is wrote,” Parson said without going into specifics.
It is not just the Missouri GOP who seems to have a big problem with the concept of voters having a say in what their government is doing, otherwise known as democracy. Florida Republicans, Michigan Republicans, Wisconsin Republicans, Pennsylvania Republicans, have all been trying to flout the will of their constituents by limiting voting rights, overturning voter approved referendums, making it impossible for voter referendums to appear on ballots, and even refusing to sit a Democrat who was legitimately elected by voters.
The GOP is making it clear that they don’t just oppose Democratic politicians, they oppose democracy.