Politics & Policy

No Power to the People

Blocking the democratic process, By Any Means Necessary.

Ward Connerly, Jennifer Gratz, and the state leaders in Colorado, Arizona, and Nebraska have collected enough signatures to put civil-rights ballot initiatives before the voters there this November. These initiatives will ban preferences based on race, ethnicity, and sex — a.k.a., affirmative action — in public contracting, education, and employment.

It wasn’t easy. Similar measures have passed overwhelmingly now in blue states like California, Washington, and Michigan, so the defenders of such discrimination are increasingly desperate to keep these initiatives away from the voters.

But don’t take my word for it: An official from the aptly-named group By Any Means Necessary was quoted in the Omaha World-Herald on why her group is trying to disrupt the signature-gathering efforts: “The key to defeating the initiative is to keep it off the ballot in the first place. That’s the only way we’re going to win.”

Or, as BAMN chairwoman Shanta Driver put it rather more tendentiously in Arizona: A “majority white electorate [will] . . . in the privacy of a voting booth . . . vote to uphold and advance white privilege.”

Accordingly, the opponents have done their best to torpedo the signature-gathering process by, well, any means necessary. Step one is to send its “blockers” to wherever petitions are being distributed. Additionally, a hotline is helpfully provided so that tips about people circulating petitions can be forwarded and the blockers dispatched.

Then the real fun begins. Shouting at the people distributing the petitions, lying about what the measure would do, and abusing and defaming everyone who disagrees with them is old hat for the blockers by now. Petty and not so petty assaults follow. Max McPhail, the executive director of the Arizona effort, has noted that BAMN’s tactics have been so far over the top that even the state’s liberal media — no friend of the initiatives themselves — have condemned it.

The latest twist is that BAMN has now been caught on tape trying to bribe the signature-gatherers into turning the collected signatures over to BAMN, presumably so that they can be destroyed. BAMN has also tried secretly to submit bogus signatures itself, so that it can then point to them and challenge the whole effort as defective.

The initiative opponents include both white-collar and blue-collar thugs. The former are, in Colorado, attempting to derail the process by putting on the ballot a counterfeit measure, which looks just like the real thing, except it includes a sentence buried at the end that negates the rest of it.

And the white-collar allies sometimes include government officials. In one state, the petition itself was distorted in its official description (overturned by a court ruling), and later petition circulators were arrested for picketing on public property (such as in front of a public library and on public sidewalks).

Who are these people, and who is behind them? Well, in addition to BAMN itself (hard left, with Marxist roots), there is the infamous Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), the Soros-funded Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, union organizers, wealthy minority contractors, the NAACP, and the ACLU.

These folks have more than opposing equal rights on their agenda, so one fears that soon their efforts will be aimed at other ballot initiatives as well — and indeed that is already the case. Similar “blocker” tactics have been used in Michigan against a local recall effort, and in California against those who would like to see the state supreme court’s same-sex-marriage decision overturned. In Oklahoma, those favoring a spending-limits measure were actually arrested.

The Left, as everyone knows, favors democracy, power to the people, and nondiscrimination — except, of course, when it doesn’t.

– Roger Clegg is president of the Center for Equal Opportunity.

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