Well, folks, here’s a spicy nugget from the State Capitol: our dear State Senator Michael Rohl has drummed up a fresh take on direct democracy. In what might be a plot twist straight out of a dystopian novel titled “Attack of the Elected Officials,” Rohl has called citizen-originated ballot measures an “evil” we must bear. Yep, you read that right. Rohl believes the system, which South Dakota pioneered 125 years ago, is a necessary evil.
Now, if you’re asking, what’s with the sudden beef with ballot initiatives? Rohl explains his thesis like this – these initiatives fall prey to special interests, and voters, bless their hearts, focus more on general issues than specific details. But, ah, the silver lining. They can hold lawmakers and party politicos to account.
Rohl waxes eloquent on the subject of Father Haire, the socialist priest who architected this so-called evil. His take? “It may have been originally created by the socialist priest, but even a blind squirrel will find an acorn every now and then.” I don’t know about you, but that sentence had everything – clergymen, socialism, and nature-based metaphors.
Father Haire, after probably performing an eye-roll from the great beyond, could have retorted that Rohl and his lot are the truly avoidable evil. Haire was a proponent of radical change, advocating for the abolishment of representative legislature. He argued for a system where the electorate made the laws – a bold move to eliminate “humbugging in committees” and “secret sculduggery.” Ah, the good Father knew how to coin a phrase.
While acknowledging the practicality of an elected Legislature for most legislative business, let’s not toss out the baby with the bathwater. The power of citizen-led initiatives is far from evil. It’s the essence of democracy – a testament to the equal dignity of all citizens. It’s also an excellent way to keep a check on the potentially corruptible offices of our dear elected officials, including, but not limited to, those who may compare themselves to blind squirrels on a quest for an acorn.
And let’s not forget, these same ballot initiatives can keep even our dear Senator Rohl on his toes. So, it’s time to clasp hands with the spirit of dear Father Haire and dedicate ourselves to preserving the edifice of direct democracy. After all, one man’s evil may very well be the cornerstone of another man’s freedom.