On April 6, Nederland voters decided – by a vote of 259 to 218 – to legalize marijuana and paraphernalia completely for anyone over 21 years old. Good for them.
The mountain town’s residents went further than Breckenridge, which last year legalized possession of less than one ounce of marijuana, and by a vote of 259 to 218, removed all criminal penalties against buying, selling, possessing, consuming, growing and transporting marijuana for anyone age 21 or older.
The disgusting act of gerrymandering is when partisan interests take control of the redistricting process, which is when congressional and legislative districts are redrawn and is usually conducted by state legislatures after the census, and use it to benefit incumbents and specific parties.
But there is good news. There is a growing movement to end gerrymandering. In 2008, Californians passed Prop 11, which moved the responsibility of redistricting from the legislature to a nonpartisan committee. Now, a group in Florida is trying to put an end to gerrymandering through another ballot initiative, and they need your help today more than ever, no matter where you live in the country.
UPDATE: Here’s a quick summary of what I’m talking about:
1. Gerrymandering is awful and needs to be stopped
2. FairDistrictsFlorida.org, a grassroots organization, is working to stop it by putting an initiative on the Florida ballot
This is a repost from a few months ago. I am reposting it because this organization needs to raise $25,000 in order to pay for the initiative to be qualified. If they don’t do this, gerrymandering will most assuredly continue in Florida.
There’s been a lot of talk about “direct democracy” since Obama was elected – about how his campaign involved people at a level never before seen in national politics, how his White House has been using online programs to get peoples’ input, and so on. But what if we as Americans could participate on a level even beyond this – what if we had the power of lawmaking?
I’m not saying we should get rid of Congress, I’m saying that we should add to it by embracing The National Initiative for Democracy (aka NI4D), a campaign for ballot initiatives at all levels of government.
Together with a few dozen other people, I am helping to create a documentary about the history of democracy and how the NI4D is the next natural step in that process. Even though we’re making the movie with volunteers, we still have some small costs, and that’s where you come in.
This is Mike Gravel, the chairman of The Democracy Foundation. On November 10th, we are going to be organizing a money bomb to try and raise money à la Ron Paul. We’re not deluding ourselves that we’re raising the millions, but we need to raise enough money to pay some videographers to be able to do a documentary on the National Initiative and how it will empower the American people to be able to vote on the policy issues that affect their lives, once it’s in place.
The National Initiative is very different from the initiative process that we have in the twenty four states around the country. Those states – you just qualify, everybody throws money at it, and the people vote. That is not a good way to make law. Law requires a deliberative process where you have hearings, markups, proper communications, and the like. And in that way, the people can make laws and properly deliberate the policy issues that affect their lives. And that’s what the National Initiative will be – it’s a meta-tool which we put in the hands of the people, so they will be able to then have an affect on how they are governed. It will be the first time that people will have a government “by the people,” because the people will become lawmakers.
The definition of freedom is the participation in power. Power in representative government is lawmaking. If you don’t make the laws, all you can do is obey the law or go to jail. And so if you really want to have freedom, what we have to do is to make ourselves lawmakers. And the only tool available to do that is the National Initiative. And this is a tool that will not be enacted by representative government, because it dilutes their power and they’re not about to empower the people.
And that’s the reason why we have been struggling with an organization called The National Initiative for Democracy, sponsored by The Democracy Foundation. And so that’s the reason why we’re making an appeal now for your help, to donate whatever you can afford so that we can pay for this documentary and then use this documentary as a device to inform people so that they’ll be aware of the potential of the National Initiative as a tool to empower them to have a more meaningful role in the governing of their lives.
Our representatives are selecting their voters, as opposed to the voters selecting the representatives. This is a situation that I think the American people should not accept.
–Barack Obama, 2/8/06
The disgusting act of gerrymandering is when partisan interests take control of the redistricting process, which is when congressional and legislative districts are redrawn and is usually conducted by state legislatures after the census, and use it to benefit incumbents and specific parties. This is one of the more corrupt practices in state government – if you can believe that! – and is one of the more destructive forces on our republic today.
But there is good news. There is a growing movement to end gerrymandering. In 2008, Californians passed Prop 11, which moved the responsibility of redistricting from the legislature (who, like many other state legislatures, drew their own districts to their own advantage) to a nonpartisan committee. Now, a group in Florida is trying to put an end to gerrymandering through yet another ballot initiative, and they need your help today more than ever, no matter where you live in the country.
Have you heard the reasons why many people believe Prop 8 passed this past November? It’s the bigoted voters, say some, and they can’t be trusted! It was a failed campaign by the gay community, say others. And others still say it was the huge amount of money spent by out-of-state players like the Mormon Church.
But all of those explanations are ignoring an essential part of the story of how the initiative passed. In light of the upcoming California Supreme Court ruling, I thought I’d tell you about the missing part of the Prop 8 story.
Crossposted at Dailykos.com and Congressmatters.com