Friday, July 28, 2006

Jonah Goldberg Takes on Bill Bennett's Favorite Ballot Proposal

You may have heard about the ridiculous initiative on Arizona's ballot to host a lottery for $1 million to encourage folks to vote. (One vote = one chance to win.)

Democrat Mark Osterloh, whose credentials can be summed up as "an ophthalmologist from Tuscon and a noted political gadfly," collected enough signatures to get the initiative on the November ballot.

Never one to defy a vertigo-inducing leap of logic, Jonah Goldberg tries to connect this dumb idea to the enfranchisement efforts by "voting rights activists" in his latest Los Angeles Times column:
What is surprising about Doc Osterloh's wacky idea is that the franchise maximizers hate it. The New York Times dubbed it "daft" and "one of the cheesier propositions on the November ballot." USA Today called it "tawdry." Fair enough.

But I think part of the reason they're so scandalized is that Osterloh is taking their logic to its natural conclusion. [emphasis added]
See the connection? No? Well neither do I. Perhaps he is arguing that gamblers are a disenfranchised voting bloc.

Well, I can hardly say I'm shocked that Goldberg would use a fringe ballot initiative both as the topic for a nationally syndicated column and as an opportunity to score a nonsensical political point. Not surprisingly, though, he neglects to note that this proposal is only one of 17 initiatives on the Arizona ballot, nor does he use this initiative as a textbook example of the stupidity of the ballot initiative process in many states (and Infinity Ranch has a few choice comments on that subject).

Even so, Jonah's skating on razor thin ice here.

This proposal is less about voter enfranchisement than it is about plain, old-fashioned bribery. And if there's a political party in this country that has fine-tuned the art of bribery in the last ten years--well, how much more need I say? I can think of a pretty hefty number of GOP politicians and lobbyists who have used money as a lure to get people to do things they normally wouldn't do out of principle--or because they're just too lazy. Do I need to remind Jonah which party tried to bribe voters with a $100 gasoline "rebate"?

No, I think part of the reason Jonah is so scandalized is that Osterloh is taking Republican logic to its natural conclusion.