14 December 2010 ~ 38 Comments

Fighting the Will of the People – not good politics

Just weeks after nearly one million Missourians passed Prop B — the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act — some Missouri politicans are already trying to completely repeal it.

That’s not just bad for the dogs, it’s also just plain bad politics when you consider what you’re overturning — the will of the people:

We’ll be reminding lawmakers that Prop B passed with a clear majority statewide; in fact, a majority of voters favored Prop B in a majority of state senate, state house, and congressional districts. Prop B won in five of the nine congressional districts—three that elected Democrats and two that elected Republicans. And it had winning margins in 18 of the 34 state senate districts—eight Democratic seats and ten Republican seats—with the “yes” side ranging from 50.9 percent to 79.4 percent. Sixteen of those winning senate districts had a 17-point margin or more for Prop B.

Elected officials should respect the will of the people. Subverting the judgment of voters is not right, and it is anti-democratic. Our system is built on majority rule, and a majority of Missouri citizens—including majorities in most legislative districts—favored Prop B. The voters acted precisely because the legislature has failed to stop puppy mill abuses. It is undemocratic, and would be wrong of lawmakers to usurp the power of the people and ignore their expressed will.

Despite some pretty ridiculous claims by the opposition, Prop B is simple and focused — it sets minimum standards for care in commercial dog breeding operations. That’s it. To think that Missouri voters got that wrong is pretty arrogant (not to mention inhumane).

The Jefferson City News-Tribune gets it right in a recent editorial:

Proposition B was among the most discussed and debated issues on the November ballot. To contend the voters were misled undermines their intelligence.

It doesn’t matter whether we — or other newspapers — opposed it, whether a vast majority of counties rejected it or whether legislators are happy with the outcome.

The initiative petition process, used to launch Proposition B, empowers people to propose public policy when their elected representatives fail to do so.

The proposition exemplifies the phrase “of the people and by the people.” And our state motto reminds us to respect the welfare and the people, including their ability to determine what that is.

With regard to Proposition B, let it be.

If you live in Missouri, tell your legislators exactly that: let it be — protect the dogs and the will of the people.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I consult with the Humane Society of the United States on ways to expand their online community to protect animals and confront cruelty — something very important to me and my family.

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