For The Future of Our Democracy: Vote NO on Prop. 32

Dayne Lee, Civic Participation Coordinator, Korean Resource Center. Submitted to Korea Daily as a letter to the editor.

California voters have a lot at stake in this year’s elections. We will vote to choose between two different visions of the future. In one vision, we can choose to reinvest in and restore the middle class by investing in education, asking that all Californians pay their fair share of taxes, and provide opportunities for all immigrants and ordinary people to pursue the American Dream. By increasing our voter turnout, Korean American voters can affirm this vision.

But there is an alternate fate that California must avoid. This is a future in which education and social services are crippled, and immigrants and ordinary Californians are drowned out of the political process by corporate interests. These are the voices behind Proposition 32. If Proposition 32 passes, it could have devastating effects on K-12 school budgets, on middle-class economic recovery, and on the rights of immigrants.

Proposition 32 is a deceptive, unfair bill. It is designed to weaken the political voices of ordinary people while allowing corporations to continue to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence California politics. Proposition 32 has two main components; it would ban corporations and unions from directly contributing to state political candidates, and it would prohibit corporations and unions from using union dues or payroll deductions to fund political activities.

Today, corporations outspend unions by a 15:1 margin in California politics. Yet corporations and corporate-sponsored “Super-PACS” (Political Action Committees) would not be affected at all by Proposition 32. This is because corporations use profits to pay for political activities rather than paycheck deductions. Proposition 32′s funders claim that this is a reform measure that will limit the impact of special interests in California politics, but in fact, this bill would allow corporations unbalanced dominance over California politics and prevent meaningful political reform. If passed, Proposition 32 would further tilt the civic playing field to the interests of a few wealthy corporations rather than average California voters. It is critical to the future of our democracy that California voters vote NO on Proposition 32.

Proposition 32 also has disturbing implications for the rights of ordinary California voters. Keep in mind that California union members are firefighters, nurses, and teachers, people that our communities trust and value. Yet Proposition 32 would allow out-of-state corporations and out-of-state Super-PAC’s to spend hundreds of millions of dollars affecting our elections.

Furthermore, in California, labor unions have been critical allies to the Korean American community on many issues. Whereas many corporate interests seek to further reduce or even eliminate public education, California unions strongly back investing in our schools and in our children’s educations. Unions have also been among the leading political voices calling for policies that help the immigrant community, such as immigration reform, family reunification, and the DREAM Act. Finally, unions have always stood up for middle class Korean American families by protecting critical social services such as Healthy Families and opposing budget cuts in social services for low-income seniors.

Proposition 32 is an unfair bill that would allow out-of-state corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money while stifling the voices of ordinary Californians who support education, support social safety net, and support fair immigrant rights. We all want political reform, but Proposition 32 would only increase the power of corporations. Proposition 32 is behind in the polls and seems likely to fail because California voters are too smart to be fooled by this corporate power grab. Don’t be fooled by the deceptive title of Proposition 32. Vote NO on Proposition 32 on November 6.

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