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by George Lakoff

(October 12, 2010): California faces a crisis. It is mistakenly called a “budget crisis.” It is actually a democracy crisis.

California is the only minority rule state in America. Both houses of the California legislature are in a control of a minority on all economic issues - and almost all issues are about what is in the budget. Only 34 percent of only one House of the Legislature can control legislation by saying no, creating gridlock, and blocking the will of the majority that represents the overwhelming majority of Californians. That is why budgets have not been on time, and why they are doing less and less for the state.

The culprits here are the notorious 2/3 rules for passing any economic legislation. A 2/3 rule for passing a budget keeps the legislature from producing responsible budgets on time. Proposition 25 is a major move toward democracy in California. Proposition 25 will require a majority vote to pass a budget, as is the case wherever there is democracy in a legislature.

Right now, a radical minority of 37 per cent controls the legislature. It is a minority that wants the state government to fail, and has just barely enough votes to bring the state to its knees. But barely enough is enough.

The majority of Californians are sane and sensible, as are the majority of legislators. The majority cares about the public good, about Californians as a whole; the minority believe only in private good, that it’s each person for himself.

The majority wants to support and enhance public education; the minority wants to destroy public education. The majority wants to maintain and improve California’s environment and our parks; the minority wants sacrifice our environment and our parks to corporate greed. The majority supports public health measures; the minority wants to end public health.  The majority wants guarantee the safety and health of the aged and disabled; the minority would remove protections for the aged and disabled.

Much that was great about California has been degraded by minority rule. Proposition 25 can stop minority rule in its tracks on the matter of the budget. Prop 25 can stop the downward spiral in our state, simply by bringing democracy to the budgeting process — by giving the overwhelming majority of Californians a voice in what happens to them and their state.

Up to now, the legislature as a whole has been blamed for the budget mess in Sacramento. But it is only 37 percent of the legislature that is really to blame — the radical minority. Passing Prop 25 will allow a responsible majority to bring in a budget on time and end gridlock in the legislature.

Who funds this radical minority? Rich corporations and individuals who have much to gain from blocking the will of the majority.

Who stands to gain from continued gridlock? The radical minority who wants to keep government from doing its job of serving the people, who want to keep government from working so they can say government doesn’t work.

But there is no alternative to being governed. If government functions are privatized, government doesn’t disappear. Instead, you will become governed by private corporations, not for your benefit, but for their profit.  Who will lose? Virtually everyone but the very rich.

The job of public servants is to serve the public; the job of corporations is to treat the public as a source of profit. The radical minority does not believe that the public should be served. In short, they do not believe in democracy.

This is a crucial election. If Prop 25 loses, the cause of democracy will be set back for many years. If Prop 25 wins, the cause of democracy will be served. And maximally responsible budgets will be delivered on time by the legislature.

What a novel idea!


The majority of voters choose the majority of legislators. That’s simple democracy. And it is simple democracy that the majority of legislators provide for the needs of the people they represent.

Without such democracy, there is the gridlock, economic chaos and suffering we now face in California. We, the majority of voters, can restore democracy to California, and with it, responsible economic management.

The infamous “2/3 rules” mean that 1/3+1 (a 34% minority) in either house controls the legislature by voting “No” until they get what they want. They want to keep the state government from serving public needs, and they are succeeding.

You can stop them by returning democracy to California.

For more information and background - click here

For Letters From George - click here

Recent News

  • CPR covers "the argument that goes beyond semantics"


    CA Progress Report | April 5, 2010 | By Peter Schrag | LINK TO ARTICLE

    The chances that Berkeley linguistics expert George Lakoff will get his California Democracy Act initiative on the November ballot range between slim and slimmer. But in contending that Attorney General Jerry Brown’s title and ballot summary would destroy any chance of its passing even if it qualified, Lakoff starts an argument that goes well beyond semantics. It tells a lot about why California is stuck in the mess that it’s in.

    In requiring two-thirds majorities to approve both the annual budget – and all other spending measures – and to raise taxes, California is the only state in the union that gives legislative minorities -- usually meaning Republicans – a veto on both budgeting and taxes. Lakoff, who’s been a guru on language to a lot of politicians, wants to end what is in effect minority rule.

    As it came from the author, his measure is summarized by one simple sentence: “All legislative actions on revenue and budget must be determined by a majority vote.” Wherever California’s constitution provides for two thirds majorities in the Assembly and Senate on appropriations and tax increases, it changes the “two-thirds” to a majority...

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