It’s election season and we are hearing a lot of happy talk from the Sacramento politicians. After all, they want to be re-elected so they are painting a rosy picture of their stewardship of our state. But happy is not a word that describes the outlook of millions of Californians who continue to be burdened by high taxes, high unemployment and low expectations for the future.
Howard Jarvis, the father of the 1978 tax revolt that passed Proposition 13, used to tell folks, “If there is something about government you don’t like, get together and do something about it.” He would hold up a hand with the fingers extended and grab one finger with the other hand. Separately, he would say, they are weak, but together, they are powerful, while making a fist.
Although Howard passed away in 1986, his message would be the same today. If we don’t like the direction of our government or elected officials, it is up to us to work together and use our votes to make changes. The next election is just seven weeks away and it is time to not only think about our options, but to take action to make sure we, our friends, our family and our colleagues are registered to vote and are informed of what is at stake.
In thousands of appearances all over the state during the Proposition 13 campaign, Howard delivered the following message: The people of California are the government. The people we elect are not the bosses; we are. The elected officials are just temporary employees, and this is your chance to tell them you’re fed up with their record of “Tax, tax, tax, spend, spend, spend, reelect, reelect, reelect.”
Howard would warn: What we have is the façade of a representative government. Most of the legislators, state and federal, have special vested voting blocs that they pass legislation for and appropriate money for, for the simple purpose of getting themselves reelected. That’s true, regardless of party.
Our vote is the key to the future of California. We have the choice to join with like-minded citizens and make changes happen, or to be victims just sitting on the sidelines watching our state continue to decline. As Howard stated: Government power today comes from the ignorance of the governed, whom the politicians and bureaucrats have set out to discourage from participating in the political process, except for voting, and people in power would be just as happy if the people they rule didn’t even bother to vote.
And Howard Jarvis had a pithy comment that seems especially appropriate today: Only the knowledge that the people care will keep the politicians honest.
We can show the politicians we care by making sure all our contacts are registered to vote. Registration information can be obtained from your county registrar of voters or you may register online at the California Secretary of State’s website. Remember, voting by mail begins nearly a month before Election Day.
Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.