After work yesterday I hopped over to the local market to pick up the items needed for my love’s enchiladas and Mexican rice. It’s one of our family’s favorite dishes and I was excited and very nearly salivating as I pushed the cart out onto the sidewalk.
9 times out of ten when I come out of this particular store, there is one of two individuals lying in wait. It’s either a Hispanic gentleman wearing a white suit and big smile asking for donations for an extremely dubious purpose, or it’s a 40-something woman wearing Saturday casual and a big smile asking for signatures for an extremely dubious purpose.
I will normally let my eyes lose focus, divert as if trying to make out the 3D-ish pic in those now grossly outdated Magic Eye pictures.
But the lady with the petitions was sharper than most, or I was off my game. Even though she was busy thieving sigs from a very old man, she must have caught my motion because before I knew it she was in front of me with a second clipboard and pen.
Where did those come from?
“Are you registered to vote? Would you like to sign one of my petitions?” she asked.
“Petitions plural? How many do you have?”
She then began to flip through the pages. I believe there were ten. She did her best to throw out a ten second spiel about one of them and fumbled it.
“That’s quite a sound bite you have there,” I said. “What does that mean exactly?”
“I’m sorry. It’s late. But this is just to get it ON the ballot. You’re not voting for it.”
Then, as if I was channeling the life of the petition we were both pondering, I saw its history and future.
A group of some sort, one I could not possibly know with motivations I could not possibly understand wants to get something on the ballot. This probably is about profit, but maybe not. Maybe they’re honestly trying to help people and not thinking of, say… hiding an incredible retirement package within new term limits for California senators.
Doesn’t matter. The matter is I am ignorant of this group as I stand outside Food Maxx with my Las Palmas calling me.
They solicit a company that specializes in getting petitions signed. This company hires people all over the state to stand in high traffic areas and get signatures. There is efficiency in numbers, so this company is paying Miss Casual Saturday minimum wage to get signatures on several petitions. I’m sure she needs the work so I’m happy for her.
They probably go to stores with demographically older customers because the signatures will be easier to get and the individuals are more likely to be registered voters.
My ancient buddy in front of the store fulfills his civic duty by signing every petition the girl puts in front of him. Probably many do and the 100,000 or so signatures needed to put the bill on the ballot are soon obtained.
The lawmakers then go to work, compose whatever it is they originally wanted to get done, match it at least rudimentarily to what was on the petition and call it Proposition Whatever or Measure So-and-So.
We are all bombarded by marketing campaigns from this group and this group’s opposition and make our decision on the prop or measure pretty much based on whatever bit of advert stuck in our head. Most likely whoever has the most money and the slickest campaign is going to win.
No grass roots causes, total ignorance by the petitioner and the petitionee and no real understanding by the public about what they are deciding.
I signed one of the petitions, one about campaign spending limits. I have no concept if it’s a good idea. I felt bad that the lady spent time talking to me. I wanted to give her something. So I signed.
And ignorant democracy moved forward.
The enchiladas were excellent!
Posted by Casey Freeland at 19:50