Gaze at this list of ballot initiative results in California, and the shimmering of the maroon Nos and forest green Yeses will entrance you into a state of ecoplasmapathic connection with the average California voter.
The nuance evident in these results suggests that the average Californian is not without intelligence. Rather than voting yes on everything or no on everything, the average California voter -- let's call her Maribel Averageo-Park -- voted in a logically consistent manner.
Maribel recognized, for example, that Proposition 20 (which takes redistricting of U.S. congressional seats away from the state legislature and gives it to a citizen commission created -- for redistricting of state legislative seats -- by 2008's Proposition 11) is ideologically if not directly opposed to Proposition 27 (which aimed to overturn Prop. 11). And she chose commission-based redistricting consistently, saying yes to Prop. 20 about as vigorously as she said no to Prop. 27. The number of yes votes on the one tracks with the number of no votes on the other to within a few hundred thousand votes.
Upholding another ancient California tradition, Maribel rejected tax increases across the board -- even the implied and enormous revenue boost of Prop. 19. She said no to the vehicle tax hike Reason TV treated in this film (Prop. 21); blocked Sacramento from helping itself to gas taxes earmarked for local services (Prop. 22); and said no to a hike in business taxes (Prop. 24).
Like many Californians, Maribel believes that the state's budget can be balanced without serious cuts in the size and intrusiveness of state and local government. "Waste, fraud and abuse" was Gov. Schwarzenegger's soundbite in the days of the California Performance Review, and this technocratic fallacy -- that you can keep growing government without having to pay for it, simply by making it more efficient -- endures among Californians.
So Maribel is again internally consistent in saying yes to Proposition 25 (reduce state legislative threshold for passing a budget from two-thirds majority to simple majority) and yes to Proposition 26 (institute a two-thirds requirement to increase a range of state and local fees). In Maribel's view, you can get to a balanced budget by spending smarter rather than by bringing known revenues and known spending into balance. I think this is like believing you can grab yourself by the hair and hold yourself at arm's length, but I spend more time looking at the growing structural gaps in California budgets than doctors recommend.
As for Prop. 19, well, Maribel is perfectly pleasant and has grown on me, but I always knew that deep down she wasn't cool. Gov. Schwarzenegger's signing of a Mickey Mouse decriminalization bill last month may have had more of an effect than expected, taking some of the moral authority out of the Prop. 19 argument. Many Californians are comfortable with the notion that people are rotting in jail and getting arrested for marijuana offenses -- so long as those people were trying to make a profit. In following the weird morality of "personal use" decrim, which views the consumer as a victim and producers and distributors as predators, Californians are unfortunately not alone.