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Here are the four ballot intiatives I’ll be watching most carefully next week:

California’s Proposition 87: Will voters impose a $4 billion tax on themselves, supposedly for clean air? Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and a bunch of Hollywood celebrities hope so. This initiative polled well over the summer but recently has struggled.

Colorado’s Referendum I, which would create domestic partnerships for gays. The slogan of the pro-I campaign is “it’s not marriage, it’s basic legal rights.” A lot of pro-family groups think differently. If this well-financed referendum passes, it will suggest strategies for gay-rights activists elsewhere (and perhaps convince a few of them that they don’t need to lean so hard on judges who legislate from the bench).

Michigan’s Proposal 2, the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, which would eliminate racial preferences in public employment, contracting, and university admissions. NRO has an editorial on it today.

Missouri’s Amendment 2: If voters approve it, lots of horrible diseases will be instantly cured. Only mean conservatives oppose it, because they revel in human suffering. Or something like that. For details, see K Lo.

John J. Miller, the national correspondent for National Review and host of its Great Books podcast, is the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. He is the author of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.

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