San Antonio has several bond elections coming up for a vote on Nov. 4 and I can pretty much guarantee that 99.999 percent of the people who will cast votes in the election won’t have a clue as to what they are voting on.
I admit that I am no fan of direct democracy. I agree with the Founding Fathers who set up a republican form of government with representational democracy at its core. We elect people to represent our interests, study the issues and make decisions that are for the greater good. The average person doesn’t have the time to spend studying all the details of every issue. We depend on our representatives to do that for us.
(In fact, in many cases our elected representatives don’t even have the time to study all the details of every issue and that task ultimately falls to the paid professionals we hire to manage and run our government agencies - while the reps are essentially there to keep an eye on things.)
Everytime I hear about a bond election, a constitutional amendment election or some other ballot initiative - all I can think about is how our form of government is continuing to be subverted. It means that our elected representatives are not taking responsibility and are leaving it up to the ignorant electorate - and I count myself among them.
After 12 years of covering city councils, county commissioners, school boards and planning and zoning commissions in rock-solid conservative locales such as Kerrville and Lubbock - I have observed time and time again where people on the outside come to the meetings to criticize the budget process, then get elected to serve on the same body and the next time around come to the realization that there is nowhere to cut and end up defending the budget against the next group of naysayers.
In every city there is always a group that I call the CAVE people (Citizens Against Virtually Everything) who can be counted on to come out and oppose any bond election. It’s no different in San Antonio where you have the Homowner Taxpayer Association. In some places these people have held sway for so long that school children are forced to attend classes in overcrowded temporary buildings next to deteriorating schools built in the 1950s.
I don’t understand why these people don’t trust their local representatives to make these kinds of decisions, and yet seem unfazed everytime President Bush breaks a new record in deficit spending without having to seek similar voter approval.