Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Downside of "Humane Care" Amendment Not Making the November Ballot

by Kyle Michaelis
Despite having submitted more than 137,000 signatures on the petition to place the anti-family, pro-suffering "Humane Care" Amendment on the November ballot, almost 30,000 of those signatures were rejected by Nebraska's Secretary of State, putting the effort several thousand votes short of what was required by law. The Omaha World-Herald reports:
The so-called "humane care" amendment failed to gain enough valid petition signatures, said Secretary of State John Gale....

The measure would have required water and nutrition unless a person had a valid advance directive or living will that authorized the withholding of such care.

Paid petition circulators submitted about 137,200 signatures in July.

But election officials in all 93 counties validated only 109,780 signatures as those of registered Nebraska voters. That was about 4,000 short of the required 113,693, or 10 percent of registered voters. About one of every five signatures was thrown out.

Neal Erickson, deputy secretary of state, said most were rejected because the signers were not registered voters. Others were thrown out because they were duplicate signatures, suspected fraudulent signatures or illegible.

The World-Herald quotes a number of professional health care providers expressing relief that they won't have to defend Nebraskans from this poorly-conceived proposal that would hold the sick and their families hostage - left to suffer without recourse because of an overbroad and entirely impractical government mandate. Within the limited scope of their interests, I can't blame the medical community at all for its relief.

My concerns, however, are good government and the future of this state. While I opposed the "Humane Care" Amendment precisely because it was a threat to both of these concerns, I can't celebrate it's failure without acknowledging the possibility that this immediate victory is not so entirely beneficial.

Now, this may be another of those instances where I'm over-thinking the situation, but - in my estimation - Stop OverSpending Nebraska and the supporters of the more dangerous and even more over-reaching Spending Lid Amendment, which will be on the November ballot, are probably quite happy to be free of the baggage that the Humane Care Amendment attached to their cause.

The highly-suspect funding from the same out-of-state interests fueling the Spending Lid and "Humane Care" Amendments has obviously become a liability with the public revelation of their shady dealings and outright deceit. While it's nice to think that the financial-backers of these efforts just threw away $800,000 that can't be used to cause damage here or elsewhere, such an amount is chump-change to these ravenous ideologues for whom there's plenty more where that came from.

While Nebraska was being used as a testing ground for one particular two-pronged attack, there was probably a much stronger case to be made for joint resistance to these Amendments than there ever was for their mutual support. The complex funding scheme developed to hide the influence of these out-of-state meddlers putting a price tag on our democracy was only to their benefit while under the cover of darkness. As soon as the facts (and the more probing questions arising there from) became public knowledge, it was probably to these forces' benefit to cut their losses on one effort and focus entirely on the other. It's simpler. More than that, it's cleaner....or, at least, it will look less dirty and less outright manipulative in the eyes of voters.

Of course, the same concerns will still exist and the same questions will still be every bit as valid - the same people caught lying to the Omaha World-Herald and evading its questions on the Humane Care petition are still the same people behind the Spending Lid Amendment. But, in the form of Stop OverSpending Nebraska and its spokesman Mike Groene, they at least have a somewhat more legitimate local front established that can logically build on the network of anti-government activists who helped pass term limits in Nebraska multiple times over the course of a decade.

If the Humane Care Amendment not making the ballot gives voters and the Nebraska press reason to be less vigilant about how they are being manipulated, it could well help the Spending Lid Amendment escape the easiest attack on its validity. Though still carrying the same baggage from money men in Montana, Illinois, and New York, the load is lightened. Moreover, this might even free up resources that were set to go towards the Humane Care Amendment to put more money in the coffers of those supporting the Spending Lid.

The problem is not that the Spending Lid must now be considered on its own merits - the disaster that a similar such measure wrought on Colorado is all the evidence needed to understand that this is just a horrible idea. The danger lies in the simple message, playing on voters' distrust of government and dislike of paying taxes, that will now be more difficult to counteract with the similarly simple message that actual citizens of this state who will have to live with the consequences of these laws should be behind petition efforts rather than wealthy foreign devils whose only concern is advancing their political agenda.

A debate on the merits has always been one against the Spending Lid. A war of simplistic soundbytes and fear-mongering, however, is not quite as promising. These folks have been at it for a long time. They are good at what they do. So long as their message was obscured by the impossible-to-unravel mystery surrounding its funding and that of the Humane Care Amendment, their own finances were the story rather than the spending of state government. Again, the same questions arising from their joint funding scheme are still every bit as valid as they ever were, but that doesn't mean they'll receive the same amount of well-deserved scrutiny they would have with both measures on the ballot.

I still trust that Nebraska voters will see through the poor reasoning underlying the Spending Lid Amendment. I still trust they will look at the disastrous results in Colorado - where the law was recently suspended - and decide we don't want the same thing to happen here. I am glad the Humane Care Amendment will not be becoming law and that families will still have some right to decide what best conforms to the wishes of those patients they love and know best.

But, I'm not in the business of stating the obvious, and I refuse to imagine these issues exist in a vacuum. These democratic abominations were born together. It would have been only fitting that they die together as well. Regardless, this is no time for a burial - we must redouble our own efforts and not give an inch in terms of our vigilance to see that the Spending Lid Amendment suffers a similar fate at the hands of Nebraska's voters.

Let's send the damn thing back where it belongs - corporate offices in Chicago, a penthouse in New York, a P.O. Box in Montana - with a note reading "No Thanks from Nebraska."


Blogger bama_barrron said...

kyle i can tell it was late when you wrote this sentence:

"These democratic abominations were born together."

true democratic concepts are never abominations. could i suggest using terms like: neoconic or dominionist when referring to these ballot measures.


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