Aug 4, 2014
After hundreds of volunteers gathered petition signatures to raise the minimum wage in Michigan, the State Board of Canvassers found a loophole to keep it off the November ballot. Even that meager raise to $10.10 an hour was too much for the one Democrat and two Republicans who voted against it.
Needing 258,000 signatures, the petition organizers, a group called “Raise Michigan,” had turned in more than 300,000. The State Board first accepted a preliminary analysis of the petitions. Even after invalid signatures were discounted, the proposal still had nearly 2,000 more than necessary to put it on the ballot.
But then the misnamed “People Protecting Michigan Jobs” group stepped in. This billionaire-created group scanned all the petitions with OCR software, a process taking lots of human hours AND money. And after all that searching, and nearly two weeks beyond the deadline, they presented the State Board with . . . 42 duplicate signatures.
This should have been a no-brainer: The deadline was past. Forty-two signatures were forty-two signatures. Instead, the Board accepted the challenge, along with the challengers’ reasoning that 42 signatures was a “random sample” representing potentially 4,000 duplicate signatures that should not be counted. The Board ruled that the proposal had too few signatures to make it on the ballot.
A random sample? This was clearly no random sample – it was a fishing expedition funded by billionaires, to override the will of hundreds of thousands of people.
It shows the truth about the “democracy” that supposedly exists in this country. It shows how “democracy” works. The billionaires didn’t want people to have a chance to vote on the minimum wage.
Examples like this abound in every state of the country, and at the national level because “democracy” in this country is democracy for the ruling class only. It is “democracy” of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich. And attempts by the working population to express themselves – as in this petition drive – are attacked by the apparatus set up to preserve “democracy” for the capitalist class only.
Regularly, the choices presented in elections express the will and the desires of this capitalist class. Their referendums are the ones that make it on the ballot. Infrequently do popular measures appear there.
As for candidates, Democrats and Republicans dominate the ballot: the same two parties that have led the attacks on the population. And big money supports them, both of them. The banking industry, for example, gave large sums to both parties in the last presidential election.
That is why so many working people don’t vote. It’s why so many are cynical about elections, about the government.
It will remain that way until the working class begins to develop its own political voice, its own political candidates, its own political organization – a working class party organized around a working class program, a program that proposes to the workers they and they alone, through their own fights, have the means to protect themselves.
For a working class policy, a working class fight!