In the bumping battle of the behemoths, big liquor won over super-sized supermarkets. Actually all three statewide ballot initiatives lost, but Question 1 that would permit food stores to apply for wine licenses seemed to have the greatest interest.
It was also the only question that people understood.
The main opponents to 1 were liquor wholesalers and beer distributors, who cherish their near monopoly deals with liquor stores. On the other side, the equally powerful supermarket chains did not make their case on cases of wine clearly enough. Voters bought into Chicken Little-style claims of bodies on the highways and drunken teens in an updated version of Reefer Madness.
Unfortunately, the other two questions were not plain enough for voters. The fusion voting one, Question 2, almost certainly would have had no short-term impact and arguably very little long-term one. Its proponents made wild claims that it would force the big-party candidates to deal with substantive issues. Uh huh, righto.
Oddly enough, it seemed to have lost on the most embarrassing basis, that Massachusetts voters are too stupid to do it. Perhaps typical was State Senator Dianne Wilkerson's comment in a recent El Mundo guest editorial (apparently not online) concentrated on ballot questions 1 and 2. She was opposed to 1, apparently because she doesn't drink. She urged defeat of 2 because it would confuse voters.
Really, fusion voting is not hard. Certainly, understanding most ballot initiatives is much more difficult. Yet, just using the word "confuse" seemed to be enough to defeat fusion voting. I envision polling places filled with Abe Simpson characters careering off each other in their addle-headedness.
We contend that instant run-off voting is what would have the greatest positive impact here, but fusion voting works in New York and elsewhere, as a modest incremental improvement. Yet, the many who claim we're too dumb for fusion voting would put their fingers in their ears and chant at anything complex.
Question 3 was too dense. It only permitted day-care providers to get out from under the thumb of state agencies by letting them try to organize a weak union-like organization. They could then negotiate consistent and fairer regulations and procedures. It made perfect sense, at least to the few who pored over the obscure question wording. It wasn't sexy enough or explained simply enough.
To state the obvious, Massachusetts is not and is not likely to become an electorate of change seekers. In some ways, we can inch ahead of our socially conservative nation, but in the main, we want our new and different features to not be too new or too different.
It is only when we are ground down in the muck by, say 16 years of regressive Republican stagnation, that we go for, say a progressive chief executive. Otherwise, it's no, that's too radical and no, that's confusing. It's the belt-and-suspenders New England of yore, very comfortable.
Tags: massmarrier, Massachusetts, election, ballot initiatives, wine, child care, fusion voting