The aftershocks of last week's electoral earthquake continue to be felt. Yet the shake-up at the national level tells only half the story. Voters showed their displeasure with the country's direction with their votes on ballot-box battles centered far outside the Beltway.
Even in a left-coast enclave like Washington state, which President Obama carried by 17 points in 2008, voters by overwhelming margins demonstrated that they've had it with taxes. Labor unions joined with Bill Gates Sr. to spend millions pushing a referendum to establish a special income tax on the so-called "wealthy" - those who make $200,000 a year or more. This measure was taken right out of the Democratic class-warfare playbook, and it went down in flames, with 66 percent voting no. Almost as many voted to repeal special sales taxes on products nanny-state leftists have come to despise: candy, bottled water and soda pop. The most decisive blow of the night came when two-thirds of Washington state residents approved a measure requiring legislators to achieve a supermajority vote if they want to increase a tax or raise a fee.
Anti-tax crusader Tim Eyman told The Washington Times that he filed the referendum after being disappointed by the state legislature's tendency to compromise and cater to special interests. "Initiatives allow you to fundamentally change public policy in a really substantial way," Mr. Eyman said. "It is the ultimate in truth in advertising. You can't hide what your proposal does. Initiatives can't change their mind after the election - unlike politicians. They're principled, and they're consistent."
Another left-coast outpost, California, is so dominated by liberals that it just elected Jerry Brown - the Democratic governor from the 1970s nicknamed "Moonbeam" - to lead it to prosperity in the 21st century. Apparently, voters were sober when making the choice, as the they stopped short of legalizing marijuana. Oregon and Arizona also shot down pro-pot plebiscites.
A number of states took a proactive approach to dealing with the Obama administration's overreach on health care and unions. The Grand Canyon State approved an amendment blocking enforcement of the federal Obamacare mandate and an amendment guaranteeing secret ballots for all union elections. Oklahoma rejected the Obamacare mandate with a 65 percent vote. South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah adopted secret-ballot amendments with support from 60 percent to 86 percent. This repudiation of Mr. Obama's policies is direct and clear.
Other statewide proposals reflected the red tide in a more general way. Louisiana stopped public officials from voting themselves a salary boost until after they stand for re-election. Nevada blocked a sneaky amendment designed to undermine protections from eminent-domain seizures for private gain. Oklahoma prohibited judges from considering Shariah law in their legal determinations. Indiana imposed caps on property taxes. With an 88 percent vote, Kansans reaffirmed their commitment to the right to keep and bear arms. An Arizona amendment outlawed preferential hiring through affirmative action.
A few votes went against the tide. California voters didn't care about the effect on jobs when they voted to embrace regulations on so-called greenhouse gases. Colorado narrowly rejected an anti-Obamacare initiative. Overall, however, the message from the heartland is one of reducing the size, scope and intrusiveness of government and the power of unions. The Democratic Party needs to listen to what the public has to say, or it could find itself losing even more seats in 2012.
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