This ballot initiative could change the face of American politics. Really.
Changing the face of American politics.
Sounds grandiose, doesn't it? It's not, but you be the judge: First, some history: In 1934, Nebraska passed a constitutional amendment that changed its legislature from one elected on a partisan basis (where candidates ran in party primaries) to a nonpartisan basis (where candidates run as individuals, not as members of a political party). What difference did it make?
* The Nebraska Legislature isn't just elected on a nonpartisan basis, it's functionally nonpartisan, too. Unlike every other legislature in the country, it has no Democratic or Republican caucus, party leaders don't call the shots, and it elects members to leadership positions on the basis of merit, not political party.
In fact, in last year's session its 14 committees were led by 8 Democrats, 5 Republicans, and 1 Independent, despite the fact that 60% of the Legislature was composed of 60% registered Republicans.
Political party barely matters in the Nebraska Legislature.
* Nebraska has a substantially more progressive taxation system than many other "red" states--while our home state of South Dakota ranks a dismal 4th on the Institute on Tax and Economic Policy "Tax Inequality Index," Nebraska ranks 28th, substantially better than blue states like Washington, Pennsylvania, Hawaii, Ohio, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
* The Nebraska Legislature just passed a repeal of the death penalty, a 6 cent increase in gas taxes (which will fund desperately needed infrastructure repairs to roads and bridges), and issuance of drivers licenses to the children of undocumented immigrants, the so-called "Dreamers."
And not only that, but get this--the Nebraska Legislature also over-rode vetoes of all three pieces of legislation by Republican Governor Pete Ricketts!
So, where does our initiative come in?
Well, on Monday we filed a constitutional amendment initiative with the South Dakota Attorney General that will not only turn the South Dakota Legislature into a nonpartisan body, it will also change all South Dakota county, state and federal elections (except presidential) from partisan to nonpartisan.
We will tell South Dakotans that if they are happy with the partisanship that is dividing us into warring camps then they should vote against it, but if they--like us--believe that we have to find a way out of the partisan, tribal hatred that is dividing us from each other, then they should support it.
And we believe they will. And if we can pass it in South Dakota, we absolutely believe we can pass it in many of the other 24 ballot initiative states, too! As Patti Smith, one of our favorite musicians sings here: People really DO have the power!
So, first, we'd like to thank you for your past support and help--without you we would have never made it this far! Secondly, if you agree that we must reverse partisanship then we would invite you to make a contribution of whatever size that you can afford--be it $5, $20, or $50.
With your help we can make this happen!
Rick and Drey