So what about Josh Hawley? There’s this little morsel (as noted by Michael Bersin here) which indicates that perhaps the guy just isn’t working with all the lights burning:
In Missouri’s U.S. Senate race, Josh Hawley (R) slammed Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) this morning for “hiding out” in Washington, D.C. For the record, the Senate is in session, which means McCaskill just went to work.
One twitter commentator suggested that Hawley might need a tutorial on how government works. In fact, lots of folks have been wondering this summer if Hawley’s really up to speed when it comes to “work,” and “politics” stuff – an impression that this post-primary awkwardness reinforces. Perhaps a tutorial would be just the thing.
Want more evidence that our hero is a little slower on the uptake than we’d expect from a Yale and Stanford graduate? How about Hawlely’s inability to let us know what he thinks about major issues in Missouri politics like the ballot initiatives that will come before the voters this November: we’ll vote on a higher minimum wage, clean government measures, including fair redistricting reform, increases to the gas tax to pay for sorely needed infrastructure improvements, and legalization of medical marijuana.
“Yes” or “no” stuff for any thinking politician, right? But Hawley seems to be a little worried that he might get somebody’s dander up if he expresses a real opinion on possibly controversial topics, which may be why he’s so willing to temporize. He declares that:
… he needs to read through all of the proposals and is still making up his mind. He said he’s inclined to support medical marijuana, but he said he wants to make sure there are enough protections to limit it to medical uses.
We’ve known that these initiatives would probably be on the ballot for some time – and even if we hadn’t, each of them is important enough, and most have been swirling around in the national conversation with such force, that we should be able expect a serious candidate for statewide office to have well-thought out opinions.
Senator McCaskill, I notice, is able to discuss the propositions straightforwardly without obfuscation or withdrawing into a shuddering heap. What we get are clear cut answers about what she believes will work best for Missourians. She likes all the propositions – expressing serious enthusiasm about clean government measures, something that all ethical politicians should be able to endorse. She even approves of the gas tax – a position that takes courage in these days when a sizeable section of the electorate has been brain-washed to think that you don’t have to pay for what you get – or that the other guy doesn’t deserve what you get.
There is one aspect of the questions raised by the ballot propositions that Hawley is willing to commit to. Our prim, proper and very religious AG is pretty clear that no one should be able to toke up who isn’t suffering from an agonizing or terminal disease. Easy-peasy decision if you’ve got your priorities straight.
It’s no secret that the American Legislative Education Committee (ALEC), the corporatist front group owned in large part by the billionaire Koch brothers and used to enact their political preferences into law, is really big on right-to-work (RTW) legislation. ALEC is not alone in promoting RTW – the Chamber of Commerce; ALEC’s sister organization, Americans for Prosperity (AFP); along with numerous rightwing groups have also made RTW their cause du jour, but ALEC has had a particularly important role. In fact, several past efforts to enact RTW bills in Missouri adhered closely to he pattern of ALEC model legislation. Those bills – so far – have failed to gain sufficient traction to pass.
But never fear – RTW is still a priority. House speaker, Tim Jones recently, proclaimed that “we’re going to make Missouri the 25th right-to-work state.” The only thing that has changed is the strategy, as Peter Kinder explained to the ALEC overlords last month:
Earlier this month, Republican Lt. Governor Peter Kinder told an audience at the national American Legislative Exchange Council convention in Chicago that “Right to Work” (RTW) didn’t have the legs to pass through Missouri’s Republican-controlled legislature, and that the matter would likely be placed on the ballot for the next general election.
Sounds grim. RTW is not just one more effort to chip away at the ability of unions to function effectively, it’s a chain saw that can be used to slice away huge chunks of union membership.The word is that Missouri unions are already building up their war chests in anticipation of a nasty fight:
The 1978 fight pales in comparison to what the fight would cost both sides now,” Missouri AFL-CIO President, Hugh McVey, told The Missouri Times. “We won big last time and the numbers kind of speak to that, but I don’t know that we’d win like that this time. Although I do still think we would win.”
At a meeting of the Missouri Progressive Action Group (MOPAG) last Saturday, however, Democratic Rep. Bill Otto had a different perspective, all but daring the Republicans to put RTW on the ballot. His argument touched on the issue of turnout during midterm elections. Many of us believe that the reason Missouri sent such a large population of Tea Party fence posts (as in “dumb as a fence post”) to Washington in 2010, and voted for things like the anti-Obamacare Prop. C had more to do with small overall turnout and over-excited Tea Partiers than the real druthers of less extreme Missourians. One thing a RTW ballot initiative could do, if state Democrats are able to act quickly and smartly – a big if, I know – would be to energize the Democratic base. I don’t know about you, but I’ll wait and see. I’ll also keep my fingers crossed.
“…I believe that anybody who looks at our country over its long illustrious history and Missouri’s history who doesn’t think that there has been a slow steady erosion of people’s voices, I mean the average person’s voice, in our government and the way we do things today, um, and this is just another, overturning what we put on the ballot, is just another step in silencing our, you know, what, our voice about what we want…”
Joe Trippi (left) and former Lieutenant Governor Joe Maxwell (D) (right) in Kansas City for Your Vote Counts!
Blue Girl and I had the opportunity to sit down for a conversation with Joe Trippi and former Missouri Lieutenant Governor Joe Maxwell (D) in Kansas City Wednesday morning about the ballot initiative addressing the Missouri General Assembly’s propensity to overturn the results of ballot initiatives.
…Joe Trippi: …and we can get into that [crosstalk]…
Show Me Progress: But then you’d have arguments in Missouri that’s an oxymoron. [inaudible crosstalk]
Joe Trippi: …but then you’d have to ask, ’cause, that’s what I’m saying. No, that’s my point. Then you have to argue whether, it’s like a, the argument that, uh, hey, you know, our elections, uh, you know, there’s a presumption that, that elections are, are, you know, are, are fair and, and, you know, [inaudible]. There’s also, you, you’d like to make the presumption that the legislature actually are thinking adults who don’t, who aren’t influenced by how much money an interest group [crosstalk] will give.
Show Me Progress: Or, or they’re, they’re trying to solve a problem [crosstalk][inaudible]…
…Joe Trippi: There’s nothing [crosstalk, yeah, they’re pure, they’re very pure. Yeah, that system’s really pure. I mean, that’s what I’m saying. So, you know, look, there, there’s not like there’s any perfect way to do it. But I think the more citizens are participating in, the more citizens have a say and the, and the harder it is. The easier it is for citizens to participate and the harder it is for legislators to undo what citizens, when citizens voice things in initiative the better the pro, the better we’ll, we’ll be then the system we’ve got now which is the legislature doesn’t do what it needs to do and then when we take action they say, oh, you idiots, you don’t know what you’re talking about. We think you’re wrong. And that, it was a mistake [crosstalk] and, you know…
Show Me Progress: Yeah, and, and it’s been interesting for me, the, the idea of the citizen participation as, as, as we’ve been doing this for the past couple of years watching this. It’s, it’s almost scary that, um, you know in two thousand ten to see the, the drop in people who were, were participating. [inaudible] Because I think there is a fear, two thousand twelve, of not, not sustaining the kinds of interest that we saw in two thousand eight. [crosstalk]
Joe Trippi: No, that’s definitely in the [inaudible].
Show Me Progress: And it has, and it has a huge impact.
Joe Trippi: No, that, that’s what I’m saying, so that’s like, you know, let’s keep cutting off, making it tougher. Hey, you guys pass something, we’re outta here, you wasted all your time. That was anybody who carried those petitions, anybody who knocked on any doors, anybody sent twenty-five bucks in. [voice: “Yeah.”] You wasted it. It was a waste, ’cause us guys up in Jeff City said, you were wrong. Well that’s a great message to send to people about what, why they should be active in politics. That’s, I mean, that’s why, you know, I’m for this thing. I mean, I think we need to buttress and make strong the foundation where American people and Missouri, people of Missouri can participate, can, uh, have more of a say. And we’d probably be a lot better off, um, you know, if we had some sort of system where you could do that, get, you know, where they had more of a say directly in Washington, too. But, you know, that’s, that’s a dif, different [crosstalk], different day.
Show Me Progress: And, and, and there’s some ironies in the thing. The carry conceal, uh, initiative was in ninety-nine, am I right about that. Do I remember that? [voice: “Ninety-eight.”] Ninety-eight. Ninety-eight. ‘Cause I remember being in Jefferson City and, and [Senator] Harold Caskey [voice: “Yep.”] , uh, with, with that. Uh, what I remember about that was that the NRA started throwing huge amounts of money in that election. And what they did was, that people started to wake up about what was going on. And what actually happened is it boosted voter turnout. And I think the irony is, the way I looked at it, is if they would have kept quiet it would have passed. And, and they spent millions and people started going, wait a minute, we don’t want that. And, and what happened was it, it went down to defeat. So there, uh, sometimes the Missouri voters are…
Voice: But just for, just for a little bit of clarification, the conceal carry was not an, an initiative. The citizens didn’t put it on the ballot. [crosstalk] The legislature did. It’s a different term [inaudible].
Show Me Progress: Right. I understand that. [crosstalk] But, it was, it was a ballot [voice: “Right.”] issue. Right.
Voice: But that’s something that we do point at because the voters made it very clear how they felt about conceal carry [voce: “Right.”] and the legislature still went against them. So there are examples of even, not the, necessarily, or overturning initiatives that citizens put on the ballot, but there are a lot of examples like that [crosstalk] where the citizens have voted on and then they just say I don’t, still don’t care about what you say.
Show Me Progress: Things which are already [crosstalk] voted, decided on. [crosstalk] Yeah.
Former Lieutenant Governor Joe Maxwell (D): In two thousand eight we passed Prop C for the [inaudible] requirement. I worked on that for renewable energy standards. We worked then, after that passed, almost two years getting rules adopted. And finally get the rules and then the legislature guts the whole thing this year in about thirty minutes. And I went around, we had four public deals, you know, trying to explain to all our supporters, you know, yeah, we worked for three years, raised all this money, God love ya for knockin’ on doors and getting signatures, and overwhelming number of people just like [inaudible], you know, they just said, it does no good. You know, I mean, they are just devastated that they, they got engaged and excited in the process. And, yeah, we turned, you know, the legislature, voters just turn off. It, it just, it’s terrible that, uh, they just totally disrespect it.
Show Me Progress: And, and some of this is, you know, the people that get involved in those kind of things, is we see, is they’re, you know, they’re activists, the core, they believe , you know, the core activists, they believe in something and want to get something done, they want to solve a problem, they want to do the right thing. And it takes the wind out of their sails, uh, but sometimes it’s like, you know, how do we, the people that reverse that in the General Assembly, how do we hold them accountable? You know, get, channel people
, and say, well, your state representative in your district, your district voted overwhelmingly to support this thing and, and your state representative voted to overturn it. And there’s a disconnect. [voice: “Yes, sir.”] And, you know, the, the other thing is, how do you inform people that, you’ve, you know, you put your heart and soul in this, your people in this district wanted this overwhelmingly, and there are districts in this state that are that way. [voice: “That’s correct.”] In, in several of these. And, and yet they keep reelecting these same people to the General Assembly. And there’s a disconnect.
Joe Trippi: But see, I think, you know, I think part of this is, uh, I think if you had a real, uh, protection of participatory Democracy in terms of when people do this you start to have those people stay in place. I mean, other words, once you, you know, you get something on the ballot and you pass it and now it takes seventy-five percent, you know, and they, and they have that success. And, and they, you know, it, you know, I think it’s tough, when the legislature, the legislature at seventy-five percent throws it out that organiz, that group of people stay, gets I think sort of, it, it makes it easier to connect that they just, I mean, they really just undid for x interest group what we all just did. And that organization can stay on the ground, actually start to impact some of the elect, you know, some of the, the candidate elections that are going on either way. Um, uh, so, you know, in the end, look, there’s, there’s gonna be, there’re, there’re enough flaws in Jeff City or in this process, that process, in the end I, I think the more we’re involved, the more people are involved, I’ll take whatever flaws come out of that. I mean, it, they’re gonna be some [crosstalk], um, but…
Show Me Progress:There, there will always, somebody will always find a way to exploit something.
Joe Trippi: Yeah. And [crosstalk]…
Show Me Progress: If you’re, if you’re doing it with, uh, um, good, good will and good intention, you know, it, it tends to be okay.
Joe Trippi: Well, you know, I put it this way, if you’re an interest group, uh, you’re an interest group and, you know, is it, you know, which would you rather have the interest group have to try to do, persuade half of a small group in Jeff City behind closed doors with a check book, uh, about your view, uh, or a majority of people who turn out, Missourians who turn out in [crosstalk]…
Show Me Progress: Decide, who, who is gonna show up on election day.
Joe Trippi: …gonna show up on election day. You have to convince them of your point of view. You may have to spend a lot of money to do that and you may even win it doing it. I’m not, but, which would we actually rather have them have to do? I mean, assuming something, they’re gonna do something untoward, it’s gonna hurt working people or, [voice: “Yeah.”] right? Which, they, they’re gonna have [crosstalk] to fool…
Show Me Progress: Which is about everything today.
Joe Trippi: No, no, but they’re gonna have to fool half of the state into doing it. [crosstalk] Um, versus…
Show Me Progress: Yeah, you might as well, you might as well make them fool half the state.
Joe Trippi: Yeah, or, or we can let ’em fool, or, not fool, knowingly [laugh], you know, uh, uh, work Jeff City to get, to get half the vote there and, uh, you know, you know, and, which is that, which makes sense to the average person? Well, I mean, I, I think it’s pretty clear. I trust, I’d rather have them have to fool all of us than, uh, than, than working [crosstalk]…
Show Me Progress: Or, or have to do it openly.
Joe Trippi: Yeah, right, right, exactly. Have to have the spot has to be on your efforts, we have to all see it, and we all have to nod our heads or go, what are they talking about, you know. [crosstalk]
Show Me Progress: As opposed to getting some, something coming through which nobody’s paying attention to crosstalk] and…
Joe Trippi: Right.
Show Me Progress: The puppy mills, the puppy mill vote the last election [inaudible] we overwhelmingly voted to do away with puppy mills and the legislature undid it in five minutes.
Joe Trippi: That’s what I’m saying, I mean, what, what signal does that send to anybody about [crosstalk]…
Show Me Progress: …[inaudible] [crosstalk] discouraging people in this state who [inaudible] participate.
Joe Trippi: …and they, but, who did they do that for? ‘Cause they didn’t do it for [voice: “Uh, uh.”] the, yeah, they didn’t do it for any voters out there. They did it for, for the, uh, puppy mill folks, you know, so, you know, an, an interest group. They probably, you know, you go back and look at who gave [inaudible] but, you know, that’s. And, by the way, even if that isn’t what happened the problem is the poison that that creates among the electorate [crosstalk] of the people who believe and go, that’s what happened, we all know that’s what happened, and that’s how Jeff City works. In other words it starts to poison the entire trust in the system. Um, and that’s why I just don’t think, look, you know, let’s, you know, let’s make it really, if you guys are gonna do this it’s gotta be seventy-five, you gotta have rural, urban, you know, it’s gotta be like, it can’t be, in, you know, in. And look, if they’re gonna pay to, to throw out what we did let’s make them pay off seventy-five percent of the legislature not just, not just [laughter] sixty percent.
Voice: [inaudible] one more question. [inaudible] time for one more question then we gotta go.
Show Me Progress: Um, if, um, if this passes, um, do you think it’ll cause, um, an increase in kind of initiative petitions in, in this state? Where the idea where, you know, sort of, people are going, uh, the incentive will be like, we have this thing, there’s a problem, we want to address it, and we know that if we put the effort into it we’re, we’re not gonna be subject to the whims of the, the General Assembly as in the puppy mill, you know, bill [crosstalk] which was, you know, that turned around just like that.
Joe Trippi: Yeah, I think [crosstalk] , yeah, I mean, I put it this way, I think people realize that [inaudible] will believe they, uh, will know they have a voice again. Um, right now if you look at the, some of the items we’ve talked, uh, issues we’ve talked about what they learned is you can, you can believe in something, you can sign it, you can put it on there, you can work, you can door to door, you can give twenty-five dollars and in five minutes the legislature takes it all away. Well, no, this means citizens count. We put something on there and we pass it, it’s gonna stick unless they can get a whole lot, you know, across the board, rural, urban, across ideological, um, members who would never vote together on something, uh, vote because this, there was a legitimate mistake or something that wasn’t, wasn’t right. I think, hey, you know, it means we have a voice again. And, um, all you gotta do, look, I believe that anybody who looks at our country over its long illustrious history and Missouri’s history who doesn’t think that there has been a slow steady erosion of people’s voices, I mean the average person’s voice, in our government and the way we do things today, um, and this is just another, overturning what we put on the ballot, is just another step in silencing our, you know, what, our voice about what we want. And this is, you know, your vote counts. It’s gonna say to people your vote matters. What you do matters. And if you believe something and you believe strongly enough that you actually put some elbow grease and some thought and some votes and [inaudible], you know, it can count. Um, what they know right now is it doesn’t. I mean, that’s what the legislature’s been saying. We’re smarter than you or we know better than you or, or we’ve got, or we’ve got really important friends who think you’re wrong and, uh, y
ou can’t hurt our really important friends who think you’re wrong ’cause we’re gonna do right by them instead of doing right by you. And everything is, you know, it, that is a poisonous, uh, thing that breaks down trust between the people and its legislature and its government. And that’s what we’re seeing all, in a weird way, in a lot of ways that’s the kind of stuff that, that helped create the tea party, frankly. Um, they, I mean, that’s what get across all ideological lines here. No, but I’m saying that’s what [crosstalk]…
Show Me Progress: And, and that and several million dollars from [with another voice] the Koch brothers. Yeah. [laughter]
Joe Trippi: Yeah, yeah, but , you know, what I’m trying to say is, no, but I’m talking about the, the [crosstalk] anger.
Show Me Progress: The anger. [voice: “Yeah.”]
Joe Trippi: And the person who’s, who’s actually sprung up and joined and goes to these, you know, goes to these things. It’s because they’ve lost, it’s, it’s, it, it’s this kind of slow erosion of trust between [crosstalk] them…
Show Me Progress: Right. But we see this thing, there’s this kind of disconnect in that, that everybody loves, everybody hates the General Assembly but they love their representative, you know, and [crosstalk]…
Joe Trippi: That’s changing. For the first time, they have a poll, uh, yesterday or the day before fifty-four percent of the American people would vote against every member of Congress including their own. [voice: “Yeah.”] So, that, that’s starting, that’s what I’m trying to say, we’re seeing this really kind of, I don’t think a very unhealthy disconnect between, uh, uh, I mean, I guess it’s healthy that everybody’s finally that mad and, and wants actually throw their guy, you know, actually looking at their guy, you know, through, through, uh, not rose colored lenses. But I also think it’s, there’s a, uh, a real, uh, I, you know, it’s what, there’s a real, uh, change, sea change in terms of, you know, literally breaking down the level of trust between people and their government which I don’t think is healthy long term unless we do, start doing things to restore it. And that’s [crosstalk] our responsibility as much as. [crosstalk] Yeah., right, yeah.
Show Me Progress: And, and that, this started, [crosstalk] that started a long time ago with, you know, gov, government is the problem.
Voice: I’m sorry, we’ve got to go guys. Sorry about that.
“….the initiative process is one of the last things we’ve got left where I think people really have the ability to, to, to change, you know, to change a messed up system that doesn’t quite work for us. And if you don’t, and if you think it works then take a big deep breath, step back, if, if you look at Washington and Jeff City and look at the fix we’re all in and say like, oh, no, people should have less of a say and we should let the experts and the pols decide whether we got it right in an initiative or not I don’t think that makes sense….”
Joe Trippi (left) and former Lieutenant Governor Joe Maxwell (D) (right) in Kansas City for Your Vote Counts!
Blue Girl and I had the opportunity to sit down for a conversation with Joe Trippi and former Missouri Lieutenant Governor Joe Maxwell (D) in Kansas City this morning about the ballot initiative addressing the Missouri General Assembly’s propensity to overturn the results of ballot initiatives.
….Show Me Progress: …The history of, uh, voter initiatives in Missouri is, is really that, um, sometimes they’re relatively narrow margins and then the General Assembly has come back to, to, uh, do something about it in, and change the, basically, reverse the initiatives. Uh, and this is obviously an opportunity for the voters to, to weigh in on that. Uh, but, this is, this is, the language is, it, it’s a pretty large super majority to do this, to, to have the General Assembly do this. In, uh, in some cases isn’t the, uh, that kind of super majority a, a two edged sword in, in the sense if you run into, uh, an initiative that, that passes with fifty percent plus one and, uh, it’s rather controversial and low turnout year? Uh, it takes three fourths of, if this initiative passes to [crosstalk]…
Joe Trippi: To throw it out. Yeah.
Show Me Progress: …to throw it out. And, and if it’s something that [crosstalk]…
Joe Trippi: But to change it all, all they have to do, it’s fifty plus one, uh, [crosstalk]…
Show Me Progress: On another initiative. [crosstalk]…
…Joe Trippi: …In Jeff City to, to put it back on the ballot and say to the voters, we think this was a mistake, here’s a change we, we want to send it back to you. So, it’s empowering, it’s saying, look, if it’s, once the people of Missouri pass something, regardless of the margin, I mean, it, you know, sorry, Democracy [SMP: “Um, hmm.”] , you know, is, is, you know, fifty plus one. If that happens, um, the legislature can’t just, because, frankly, who’s paying the legislature to throw it, throw it out? It wasn’t, they weren’t doing it for any, because any voters gave ’em any money to do that. They did it because some interest group gave them money to do that. So, um, we’re taking power out of the interest groups hands, regardless of who that group might be that, uh, was able to make a lot of contributions and get, uh, get them to undo what the, what the people did, um, mistakenly did according to the, the interest group and, you know, and fix it. Well, they can still do that, but they have to put it on the ballot and tell the people, here’s what’s wrong, here’s what. So it is a legitimate, you know, I mean, something’s wrong in the word, you know, some legitimate, uh, uh, thing I think, you know, it’s about putting trust back in the people’s hands not in a bunch of folks, um, sitting in Jeff City who, um, are not, and it’s not like they’re sitting there, you know, uh, pure judges who have no influence going on at, at all on, on, ’em. Uh, it puts it back where it should be, in the hands of the people. And also, by the way, it, I think the other thing about the seventy-five percent is it pretty much insures that legislators from all across the, uh, the state, rural, urban, etcetera, you know, who the, wide spectrum, all have to agree there’s a real problem here. That we need, that, that the people got, I mean, that, that there’s a real problem and it’s not. This isn’t an ideological, we’re, we’re mad ’cause we lost or this group’s mad ’cause it lost and, and can only muster. You, you have to get everybody, you know, large group of legislators regardless of where they’re from or who, or whose interest they’re pressured by to say, you know, this thing is, is, there’s something wrong enough that all of us gotta, we gotta tell the people it’s, there’s a big mistake here and we’re, we’re gonna throw it out.
But the, the reality is, uh, uh, that shouldn’t happen unless there really is. I mean, once people voted that this was what the people of Missouri wanted it’s a, it doesn’t. You’re right, it could be low turnout. Well, that’s, hello, we got responsible [crosstalk], all of us have to take some responsibility for what happened.
Show Me Progress: And we, we, and we, and we’ve had a history of this in Missouri where somebody with very deep pockets, we had [voice: “Rex Sinquefield.”] Rex Sinquefield dropped eleven million dollars to get an initiative on the ballot and then they dropped a lot of money, you know, to, to support it with, and the mail, that, you know [crosstalk]…
Joe Trippi: You know, I did, you know, I know, but you have, you can, it, it’s, it, money can get you qual, can qualify something on the ballot. You can get anything qualified on the ballot with enough money to pay, you know, the folks that collect the signatures and stuff. Um, the problem is the more barriers you put up to that are barriers that you’re putting on people who can’t afford to, to do, to pay money to qualify something. So, let’s get over the, you know, the, he’s gonna qual, somebody’s got the resources can qualify anything they want. The problem is, you are dealing with Missouri voters and you can qualify anything you want, but, and you can spend millions of dollars telling ’em it’s the greatest thing on the planet, but they say, show me and it doesn’t quite happen that way. So, um, and by the way there’s lots of, you know, that’s happened, you know, uh, a woman named Meg Whitman ran for governor of California, spent a hundred eighty-five million dollars, uh, she didn’t, you know, the money doesn’t , doesn’t, you still gotta go convince voters. Now if you convince a majority of voters in Missouri that, you know, that, uh, whether it’s minimum wage or, I mean, dif, different things that have happened then, uh, hey, they, a majority of voters who turned out and the people who didn’t turn out, um, you know, have no excuse at that point. I mean, the people who turned out voted. And, um, you know, what we’re saying is no interest group should be able to put enough, enough, uh, you know, money around Jeff City or, or put enough pressure on, you know, a small group of individuals. Get them to throw it all out. And if they think there’s something wrong and they think it’s, they can put it right back on the ballot. I mean, there’s not, that’s what I’m saying, it’s not like the seventy-five percent means you can’t just willy nilly change it. If you think there’s something wrong fifty plus one of the, you know, in Jeff City, put it on the ballot, tell, and hold a big press conference, say here’s what’s wrong with it, here’s why we think this needs to go back to voters and we hope the voters will listen to us ’cause we’re your legislators and we know better than you. Well, at least, no, I mean, that’s, I mean, that’s what they’re really saying, so like let’s just say it and get it, get it out of the way and stop the game playing. So, I mean, that’s, that’s, you know, why, you know, why I think this is, you know, so important. I, I, look,
I’ve dedicated, you know, most of my, you know, most of my time in politics trying to empower people to participate in the process. Um, the initiative process is one of the last things we’ve got left where I think people really have the ability to, to, to change, you know, to change a messed up system that doesn’t quite work for us. And if you don’t, and if you think it works then take a big deep breath, step back, if, if you look at Washington and Jeff City and look at the fix we’re all in and say like, oh, no, people should have less of a say and we should let the experts and the pols decide whether we got it right in an initiative or not I don’t think that makes sense.
Show Me Progress: One, one, one of the big, the thing that’s in the mix that, that causes so much problem is the, the campaign finance in the, you know, just in the, the, no limits. And, you know, one of the things that we do we follow, we follow the money all of the time. And, you know, we get the reports and there’s somebody dropping a hundred thousand dollars, a million dollars, you know, eleven million dollars.
Joe Trippi: But that’s the point. [crosstalk] [voice: “…writing three large identical checks three days in a row.”] But that’s the whole point of this thing. How do you, how do you, how do you put an initiative on the ballot, for instance, that actually reforms the way, the, the way, um, money fundraising is done? I mean, actually, you know, makes, transparent, um, puts reasonable limits or anything like that on it? And you qualify it. The people of Missouri say, yes, finally we can end all this, you know, the corrupt practice of massive amounts of money from, you know, uh, from anybody who wants to, to put in, we can end it. And you pass it. And then what the legislators who get the money the way they get it now are gonna not overturn it, say, of course they are. So, there’s only one way, it’s a two step process. The first process is to say, hey, we the people decide the future of this state when we put something on the ballot and we make a decision and you in the legislature who didn’t deal with it. A lot of the problems that are, get, get put on, uh, are put on because the legislature already had this [….] the legislature, um, already was listening to an interest group that said, please don’t, don’t do that. So it wasn’t, uh, dealt with. Um, then, because they were derelict and didn’t do it the people got something on the ballot, passed it, and know the interest group comes back in, says, shame on you legislators, we told you to, you, you, you know, now you gotta go and stop this from happening by throwing it out. If you take that to finance reform we gotta pass this and then, then qualifying a real reform package, I mean, and all kinds of, whether it’s initiative reform and other different, then once you, you can start making, it’s the bulwark, if you will, the foundation for how you gotta do everything else because if you don’t have this then, great, let’s pass campaign finance reform and let’s see how, in an initiative process, ’cause they’re never gonna do it, Jeff City [voice: “No, they’re…”], well yeah. Oh yeah, they’re all gonna go meet in their, in their committee room and, and come up with a really strong campaign finance reform [voice: “No, they’re not gonna do that.”]. No, they’re not gonna do that. So, we do it, but then we do it and they undo it. So, that’s why this is, I mean, it, almost any argument of about how we make politics, uh, and elections more participatory, more, uh, empowering to people, uh, taking it away from the interests that have, you know, look, the, the system in both place, Washington and, um, Jeff City, they’ve been calcified. They became that way over years and years and years of just scar tissue. How, you know, how, you have like literally have special interests writing some of the bill, some of the bills.
Show Me Progress (BG): Our legislature went in [inaudible] when they took office in two thousand one.
Joe Trippi: Right, yeah.
Show Me Progress: But it’s also, that’s also interesting, that’s, when you raise that point, that’s probably one of the things that would probably get people really upset if the General Assembly overturns term limits. And, and, there, we’ve had arguments about, you know, what is the bad thing about it was the institutional memory that has been lost.
Voice: In order to overturn term limits they’d have to put that back on the ballot as well. It’s a constitutional amendment they would have to have the voters vote on it again and so [crosstalk]…
Joe Trippi: But that’s, that’s what I’m saying it’s a, there’s a very easy protection mechanism again, you know, it, they don’t need to undo it. They could put it right back on the ballot. Um, and in fact, a lot of things would probably not be constitutional amendments anymore as initiatives because of that, I mean, that’s [crosstalk]…
Show Me Progress: Yeah, the ability to do that, yeah. When I, I lived in California for four years and so we’d get the ballot initiatives, which of course, the qualifying statements, we had a simple rule of thumb. Is that when the actual statements that were on the ballot for the groups, if, if a group was proposing a ballot initiative and their statement had, um, all caps or bold and underlined in it you automatically voted against it. If it was just a straight paragraph, you know, you knew that it was, it was some kind of reasonable thing and you would read it. But the stuff that was, it was like somebody shouting from the rooftop, you’re going, this is some nut that got some initiative going and we’re just, you know, we’re voting against that one. It was, it was, and you would read it and you’d go, yep, I was right. [laughter] And, and that was the thing, one of the things, for me, was, living in California seeing the initiative process just sometimes was just overwhelming. You know, you would get a lot of that.
Joe Trippi: Yeah, but, you know, I mean, like the reality is every, the legislature passes all these laws every year.
Show Me Progress: And no one reads them.
Joe Trippi: No one reads them or anything. And, you know, every, you know, what there have been, you know, in the entire history of, uh, ballot initiatives there’s been like something like two thousand across the country that have actually passed. I mean, I mean, I’m talking about in all of the zillions of laws that have been, you know, you know, passed. And there, you know, there’s, like I say, a lot of ways it’s usually because the, the legislature didn’t do its job. Um, you know [crosstalk]…
Show Me Progress: And, and, I’ve always felt that, too. It’s, initiatives are because the, the legislature is not addressing something.
Joe Trippi: Right, right. And so, right, so, you know, then question is, well, did the initiative address it the way a thoughtful adult legislature would have addressed it…
The final portion of the transcript will appear in a subsequent post.