A false promise: 'Clean Elections' law substitutes bureaucrats' judgment for yours

Posted on July 09, 2004 | Type: In the News
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"I'm from the government and I'm here to help you" is a gag line that's been around as long as bureaucrats. So we often wonder at the public's continued gullibility when it comes to politicians' promises to make our lives better. 

After all, isn't making our lives better primarily our own responsibility as individuals? 

That's why we've long been skeptical of
Arizona
's so-called "Clean Elections" system. And it's also why we're skeptical of state government's attempts to explain to voters an initiative that would effectively do away with the system. 

Let's be perfectly clear on two points: We would like nothing better than to see voters soundly approve the Clean Elections repeal measure in November. But we also would like voters to make their decision on the measure based on a full understanding of exactly what the initiative would do. 

Mark Brnovich of the Goldwater Institute provides, on the following page, a thorough explanation of why Clean Elections should be repealed. We fully expect to receive a rebuttal from Clean Elections supporters, and we will publish that just as soon as we receive it. We will do our very best to provide readers with a running debate on this important issue between now and November. 

Between that debate on our Opinion pages, and objective coverage of the issue on our News pages, we sincerely hope you'll be well versed on the pros and cons by election day. 

You will also be receiving in the mail before election day the state-sponsored voter guide. And that should be viewed at least as critically as the coverage in these pages. As the wrangling this week at the Capitol over wording of the Clean Elections portion of the pamphlet illustrates, the "guide" may be far from impartial. 
As the Capitol Media Services' Howard Fischer reported on Thursday, proponents and opponents of the initiative have been battling over the wording. It's the job of the Legislative Council to settle on the wording, but nothing in the Legislature is truly nonpartisan - and, hence, objective. 

Both sides were so upset with the wording chosen by the council that the state Supreme Court may be asked to settle the matter. And please don't be so naive as to think partisanship ends at the courtroom door. 

Which brings us back to the point we've made all along with respect to regulating the political arena ostensibly to make it "clean" or "fair" or any other good thing politicians are so quick to promise. Don't believe it, and don't let them do it. 

In our political system, nothing can replace the good judgment of well-informed voters. Attempts to spoon feed voters by regulating the political process or publicly funding candidates are downright dangerous, not only because they invariably fail but because they give too many voters a false sense of security that government bureaucrats are looking out for our best interests. 

No one is in a better position than you to look out for your own best interests. That is especially true in politics.

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