It's hard enough to save California from the abyss, given the dominant Democrats and the overwhelming power of the self-interested public-sector unions. But just when the state has a chance, albeit a modest one, to rein in some of the power of the unions, "our" side throws a wrench in the works. In a case of letting the perfect become the enemy of the good, National Review has used the weight of its editorial board to urge conservatives to vote "no" on Prop. 32, the paycheck protection measure on Tuesday's ballot.
The editors are upset with the portion of the initiative that bans contributions from corporations and unions to local races, and argues:
"The act of giving money to candidates is a core element of our political process ... . Further, political participation does not become less important when individuals join together and act as groups, including corporations and, yes, unions."
Unfortunately, unions can just dig into their workers' wallets and take whatever dollars they need to assure that they can continue to control city councils and boards of supervisors. It is true, as NRO notes, that drafters added the corporate limitations to appeal to the states' lefty voters.
It's also true that this is mostly for PR benefit, and won't have much impact given the Citizens United decision.
NRO's technical point is fair enough, but in reality its New York-based editors will make it that much harder for California residents to ever turn back the tide of unions and their unlimited spending. NRO worries that the objectionable and superficial ballot language would "damage the political process," but the current process is beyond damaged -- it's wholly corrupted, especially at the state level.
After a horrific case of police abuse in Fullerton, Calif., for instance, new council members have been elected, but the police union has so much power and so much money that it has waged a non-stop campaign against them -- there's no way that non-union candidates can stand up to a dishonest campaign sustained by unlimited resources, created by the current system build on automatic payroll deductions. This happens over and over and over again.
Apparently, the current reality is better than an imperfect alternative.