POLITICS 11/20/2018 05:45 am ET What the wins and losses of this year’s ballot measures mean for the political debates of the future. By Michael Hobbes America is a big and complicated country in which elections rarely provide straightforward narratives. This month’s midterm elections were the simultaneous story of booming turnout and suppressed votes, a blue wave among women and a red shift among white men. Ballot initiatives, the country’s laboratory for policy ideas, are even harder to transform into simple lessons or clear takeaways. Voters in California, for example, banned animal cruelty and preserved a gas tax increase, while at the same time rejecting rent control and declining to cap the profits of dialysis companies. In Florida, voters approved stunningly progressive environmental and voting rights reforms alongside stunningly regressive taxation and tough-on-crime laws. Culture war battlegrounds ― including trans rights, gun control and police violence ― somehow became technocratic ballot measures that attracted little controversy and bipartisan support. Direct democracy, in other words, is as complex and contradictory as the voters participating in it. This year’s ballot initiatives included wide-ranging reforms of criminal justice and voting rights, but also narrow efforts to cancel Daylight Savings Time, display the Ten Commandments on state property and ban water fluoridation. They are also glimpses into the future. From… Read full this story
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